Running Russia down to hard work and motivation says coach

Cherchesov refuses to answer question over drug testing of his team

Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov listens to a translator during  a news conference at the Samara Arena ahead of Monday’s game against Uruguay. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters

Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov listens to a translator during a news conference at the Samara Arena ahead of Monday’s game against Uruguay. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters

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Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov has said his team’s impressive running statistics in their first two games at the World Cup are down to hard work and motivation.

Cherchesov’s team came into the tournament on a terrible run of form and with a Fifa ranking of 70th – the lowest ever for a host nation at a World Cup. But convincing wins over Saudi Arabia and Egypt have seen Russia stroll into the last 16, with many observers noting the fact that Russia’s players have covered more ground than any other team in the tournament and completed more sprints.

Given Russian sport’s recent record for endemic doping, these stats have raised eyebrows around the world.

But speaking to reporters before Monday’s final Group A game against Uruguay in Samara, Cherchesov made three points: there is more to Russia’s game than running, the team was very fit at last summer’s Confederations Cup and is now even stronger and the players have the twin “motivations” of playing at a World Cup and doing so in front of their own fans.

“Here are the A, B, Cs of why we are doing something better than the other teams here for the time being,” he said.

The 54-year-old refused, however, to answer a question about how many times his team have been drug-tested, saying he was here to talk about the match and he was a coach, not a doctor.

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