Kyrgyzstan will play Russia in Bishkek on Saturday
Ahead of what will be the Russian national team’s first game since November 2021, Aleksandr Krestinin, the coach of Saturday’s opponents Kyrgyzstan, says that Valery Karpin’s men find themselves in an unfortunate situation following their ban from competitive international football.
Russia were effectively suspended from qualification for this year’s World Cup in Qatar shortly after the beginning of the country’s military campaign in Ukraine, after numerous sporting federations issued sanctions against Russian sport on the recommendation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
This week it was confirmed that the Russian men’s national team is set to miss a second major tournament after UEFA removed them from the qualification draw for Euro 2024.
But on Saturday, ten months or so removed from their last international fixture, Russia will take to the field once again against Kyrgyzstan at the Dolen Omurzakov Stadium in Bishkek.
Opposition manager Krestinin – who was born in Krasnodar and enjoyed a professional playing career in his Russian homeland – says that Russia’s enforced absence from the international fold makes them difficult to prepare for.
He added that he sympathizes with members of the Russian squad because of their plight, asserting that their talents belonged at major international events.
“We don’t know how Russia will play,” Krestinin said.
“We’re focusing on our own game.
“In football terms and human terms, it’s a shame for the Russian team [about the sanctions].
“Based on their level, they could have reached the knockout stages of the World Cup.”
Russia’s most recent international fixture was a 1-0 defeat to Croatia in Split on November 14, in which they lost after Fyodor Kudryashov scored a late own goal.
They were due to play a further 2022 World Cup playoff game against Poland in March, as well another potentially against either Sweden or the Czech Republic, before all three teams issued statements in which they said they would refuse to fulfil the fixtures out of support for Ukraine.
Despite Krestinin’s solidarity with football in his homeland, Russia continues to be marginalized after UEFA’s Euro 2024 announcement this week, which organization chief Aleksander Ceferin later explained was the result of existing sanctions being enforced.
Meanwhile, Russian football clubs have also been suspended from European club competition indefinitely, barring them from the likes of the UEFA Champions League.
Russia are due to play Iran in another friendly match in November, and will potentially welcome Bosnia and Herzegovina to St. Petersburg in the same month, although officials in the Balkan country have come under pressure to cancel the match.