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Football | World Cup 2014

Capello hails Russia's 2014 campaign

Russia manager Fabio Capello said in an interview published on Monday that he was pleased with his team's performance in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, three months into his mission to inject new life into the squad.

"I believe my footballers have played very well in the qualifying clashes. They gave their all in the organisation of the play, they scored goals and won the matches," Capello was quoted as saying by the Soviet Sport daily.

Russia currently lead their group with a perfect record of four wins in as many matches. Their 12 points are five ahead of Israel and Portugal, who share second spot.

The 66-year-old former England national manager started working as Russia's coach in August after the team was ignominiously ejected from the Euro 2012 finals in the group stage under his predecessor Dick Advocaat.

But while the country's fans and sports press have enjoyed the unbeaten run, critics are still saying that the Sbornaya is lacking the flair it showed when Dutchman Guus Hiddink took them to the Euro semifinals in 2008.

Russia's next game is a friendly with the United States on Wednesday in Krasnodar.

"What constitutes a spectacle is very subjective," said Capello. "And what this constitutes depends on what exactly you put into this definition."

Capello made clear one of his biggest concerns working in Russia was that he would have a better choice of players if there was a stricter foreign player limit in the Russian Premier League.

Currently, the league clubs are allowed to field a maximum of seven foreign players at any one time so there are always at least four Russians involved.

"Of course I would have a better choice of Russian players in case the clubs have to field five or six Russians."

But he added: "Foreigners can sometimes block the way to the pitch for mediocre footballers. True talent will definitely find its way there, the foreigners will never be able to block the true talent."

Capello cited as an example Russia's reigning champions Zenit St Petersburg, where fellow Italian Luciano Spalletti fields six or seven Russian players on a regular basis.

"Zenit bought Hulk and Axel Witsel but those Russian players who perform well should never worry about their place in the line-up."

Capello named Zenit midfielder Igor Denisov as a true leader at domestic and international level, adding that he has appointed him skipper despite a lack of match practice due to his conflict with club chiefs over the newly-signed players' wages.

"I want my team's skipper to set an example for the other players at the pitch," Capello said. "He should also be the leader in the dressing room. I want to have a true leader as my team's skipper. Denisov is exactly that kind of leader."


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