Russian national team coach Stanislav Cherchesov announced on Monday, the 1st of October, the squad for upcoming UEFA Nations League matches against Sweden (in Kaliningrad on the 11th of October) and Turkey (in Sochi on the 14th of October). Cherchesov then took questions from journalists.
— When have you first heard of Igor Akinfeev’s decision to retire from the national team?
— I had a meeting with him yesterday. And even before our previous camp he underwent knee examination in Germany and got certain prescriptions from his physicians. In the end, he decided to focus on his club career. This is a situation that has to be accepted. Several footballers retired during my time as the national team coach but this is life and things are changing.
— Is it possible that Akinfeev returns to the national team squad in a couple of years, as Ignashevich did?
— We are not in the position to think of happens in two years, in a month or even tomorrow. Let us just accept the situation as it is now. In any case, we have not discussed that with Igor.
— Because Igor is relatively young for a goalkeeper...
— We are talking about his condition, not his age. There is nothing more to add to his own statement.
— You were not inviting Dzyuba last year because, as you said, he had to undergo adaptation to his new team – Arsenal Tula. Now Golovin is found in a similar situation but he was invited to join the squad? What is the motive behind that?
— Golovin is our footballer that we need in our squad now. He never worked abroad and he never performed for a foreign club before. He needs this invitation to join the national team now. He is just starting with adaptation and we need to give him an opportunity to get back to the team he played for before.
— Monaco show a poor performance...
— I am not in a position to talk about this. I can only talk about my footballers. When we do attend various matches, we monitor players that we are interested in. Team’s results and performances are not a subject of our discussion. Every club has its own details that we are not aware of. We know that Golovin is in good healthy and in good physical shape and he will be able to help us.
— Is there going to be a competition among goalkeepers after Igor Akinfeev has retired or Andrey Lunev is going to be No.1?
— There has always been competition but Akinfeev showed an excellent performance and we did not have any questions about that. For now, we do not have any doubts about Lunev either but it all depends on goalkeepers themselves.
— What can you say about the appearance of Alan Dzagoev and Aleksey Miranchuk in the squad?
— I spoke to Dzagoev just an hour ago. He is ready to play although he is still regaining his shape. He will perform two matches – against Real Madrid in the Champions League, and then in the Russian Premier League – before we start with our camp. Miranchuk is also improving his performance, scoring goals and serving assists. We can see a progress about his performance over the past month.
— Why didn’t you invite Chalov, Maksimenko, Rasskazov, Skopintsev? Is this because they are more demanded by the U-21 team?
— Who told you we even considered those candidates? There is a right time for everything and we watch everybody’s performance closely. I believe we have managed to demonstrate through our deeds over the past two years that there is certain logic behind our decisions. Neither this time nor for the previous camp did we count on any of the players you have now mentioned. Performing for the club and for the national team are two different things. Young players need to manifest their skills in U-21 and achieve certain results. I was at the U-21 team’s match in Nizhny Novgorod and I have not seen any players that could strengthen our squad at this time.
— Aleksander Kokorin has recovered after his injury and is back on the pitch. Do you maintain contact with him?
— Yes, I always have. We are glad that he is appearing for Zenit again and that he scored recently. He will need some time to get back into shape. It is not possible to sit out for such a long time and then regain your shape immediately. A player of his level is important for us but again, there is a time for everything.
— You said before the previous camp that you were inviting players that could help there and then. Did anything change after that?
— No, it is still the same. We have another Premier League gameweek and a Eurocups match and it is my hope that everybody will keep their physical preparedness.
— Who is going to be the team captain?
— What can you say about your rival teams for the upcoming matches?
— Sweden is a well-disciplined and trained Scandinavian team that uses a 4-4-2 system through most matches. We have a very tough match ahead. Then, we played against Turkey very recently and we know them quite good but certain changes keep going on in their squad. We do our best to keep our eye on everything.
— What do you think about UEFA plan to start the Nations League competition?
— That is a good idea. We are competing and have certain objectives in this tournament. It was our initial plan to take the first place and qualify to League A. There are certain regulations but we just need to win all the matches. Any kind of regulation is good for you when you win.
— Anton Zabolotny did not score a single goal in the Russian Premier League. How can he help the national team?
— Well, he scored recently in a cup tie. And we are building a team, rather than just gathering players together. Zabolotny did not score in the Premier League prior to our previous camp either but we monitor his condition closely. We need to have a solid team on the pitch. Not just a group of players that have gathered for various reasons. Anton is a good substitute player, he feels himself comfortable in the team and we do not see any reason to make changes about that.
— Is Igor Akinfeev going to attend the camp?
— Our doors are always open.
— The national team has very little experienced players left. Is it not important to maintain a balance between youth and experience?
— But on the other hand, others have an opportunity to display themselves. It is always important to keep a balance, but balance is hard to recreate artificially.