Ahead of his debut in Wednesday's friendly against Ivory Coast, new Russia coach Fabio Capello said he wants to "regain the support" of Russia fans "insulted" by the team's UEFA EURO 2012 efforts.
The Italian has been keen to show a positive attitude towards his work with Russia, attending league matches even before he put pen to paper on a two-year deal and, unlike his predecessors, pledging to be based in Russia full time.
The 66-year-old has also wasted little time reinvigorating a squad that failed to reach the quarter-finals in Poland and Ukraine – keeping the core talent but naming five uncapped players in his maiden squad. Full-backs Georgi Schennikov (PFC CSKA Moskva) and Arseni Logashov (FC Anzhi Makhachkala) are among the newcomers, with the Under-21 regulars injecting young blood into a group with an average age of over 28.
Capello met his new players for the first time on Monday. "I am very proud as it is a big honour for me to be here and to work with a strong national side," he said. "The main thing we have to achieve now is to win back the support of Russian fans who feel insulted after UEFA EURO 2012."
He may have a task on his hands getting Russia's supporters on side, yet the former England manager has already made friends among the players. "Capello is right to keep the spine of this Russia team," said the 21-year-old Schennikov. "The emergence of new faces shows they deserve their places as well. I never supported Capello's sides before, though I always followed them. We will see how our team changes under Capello very soon."
Capello is ringing the changes beyond his playing staff too, moving the team base from Dick Advocaat's preferred hotel in the heart of Moscow to a quiet area of Kratovo. The upcoming match against the Africa Cup of Nations finalists represents his first big test before FIFA World Cup qualifying commences on 7 September, at home to Northern Ireland, and he intends to squeeze the most out of it.
Capello won league titles with Juventus and AC Milan as a player, leading the latter club to 1993/94 UEFA Champions League glory as a coach, and he knows what it takes to succeed. "The key element is mutual respect between everybody who works with the team, between every member of the squad," he said. "Nobody will have any privileges. We are all friends here, we are equals. To get results we must work for the team. Good luck to everybody and let's go."
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