MOSCOW: Russia’s sports minister said on Wednesday the country’s national men’s soccer team aim to reach the round of 16 of the European Championship, as they prepare to kick off their home campaign in St. Petersburg on Saturday.
Russia will face Belgium, the highest-ranked team in the world, in their opener on June 12, followed by Denmark and Finland’s surprise qualifiers.
Currently ranked 38th, Russia came out of the Euro in the group stage during the last two tournaments.
“The Sports Ministry, the Russian Football Union have set the goal of reaching the next phase of the tournament,” Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin told reporters on the guidelines for a team training session , AIR the news agency reported.
“We have put a lot of effort into making this happen.”
However, Russia has a good chance of moving forward, as they try to fill the void left by the retirement of goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev and revive their lukewarm attack.
Russia finished last in their group at the 2016 tournament in France, when fierce clashes between Russian and English fans in Marseille overshadowed the team’s performance. – Reuters