Updated June. 10, 2014 02:03
All matches are important, but the first match with Korea is the most important to us.
The two teams share the same goal: winning the first match. Just like Korean national soccer team coach Hong Myung-bo focusing on the first match against Russia, Coach Fabio Capello of the Russian team, also vows that his team will stage a do-or-die battle in the game.
Placed into Group H along with Belgium, Algeria and Korea, Russian soccer team entered Brazil on Sunday (local time). The Russian team had been conducting training primarily in the country but this year, it arrived in the site of the 2014 World Cup finals after a 14-hour flight by a chartered plane. Russias basecamp is Itu, a small city with a population of 150,000, some 110 kilometers or two-hour drive from Sao Paulo. Capello is known to have picked Itu after checking the site in person three months ago. Watchers say the city is silent and offers good basic facilities including a training site and lodging. The Japanese national team is also using Itu as its basecamp.
Security at the Russian teams lodging and training site was tight when this reporter visited the facilities on Sunday. "San Raphael Hotel" that the Russian team is exclusively using is being guarded around the clock by more than 20 policemen and military soldiers in armored vehicles. The Russian team moved to a stadium, about a 10-minute drive from their lodging, to engage in physical revitalization training late in the afternoon. Even a police helicopter was mobilized to escort the Russian team.
With more than 50 reporters assembled to cover the training, Russia publicized to reporters its first training session for only 20 minutes. A Russian reporter expressed discontent, saying, The team publicized training for just 20 minutes in Russia, and it is doing the same in Brazil as well. With all of the 23 team members in attendance, the athletes displayed bright smiles, without showing any signs of fatigue.
Coach Capello offered a press conference after an hour-long training session. During a 20-minute conference, he revealed sense of alert over Team Korea, while leisurely making jokes. Capello hinted the participation by midfielder Alan Dzagoev (24) who tends to be confident and strong in important matches, saying that the best members of the team will play in the game. Dzagoev kicks sharp shots and boasts strong penetration from side to the center. He is also among the best in dribbling and passing skills in the team. Capello said, Korea is a team of strong physical stamina and teamwork. If we win in our first match against Korea, I`m sure our team will conclude the first round of group matches with ease.
Many Russian reporters also said that the Russia national team`s advance to the second round of 16 teams depends on the result of its first match against Korea. A reporter from Channel One Russia said that obviously, Belgium is the strongest team in Group H, but the standings could easily change depending on the results of the first showdown between Korea and Russia. Meanwhile, the Algeria national football team also arrived in Brazil on Sunday, and moved to its basecamp Sorocaba, where it conducted its first training session.