CURITIBA, Brazil (AP) — Russia has at least one thing going for it after failing to qualify for the knockout stages of the World Cup following a 1-1 draw with Algeria on Thursday.
The Russians won’t have to qualify for the next World Cup. That’s because Russia will host the quadrennial event.
Whether Fabio Capello will be leading the team into the tournament four years from now remains open to question after the team’s failure to progress from Group H.
In his post-match news conference, Capello gave no indication of quitting but he acknowledged there may be doubters.
Asked whether he would stay, he said: “If they still want me, yes.”
Capello, renowned as a coach at club level, signed a lucrative contract extension earlier this year that should keep him in the role through 2018.
The Italian coach dismissed suggestions that he has a poor record in international football.
Capello, who coached England to the second round in South Africa before a 4-1 thumping at the hands of Germany, pointed out that he has done a “good job” getting Russia to qualify for its first World Cup in 12 years.
Like four years ago, Capello bemoaned the quality of the officials. In 2010, England was denied an equalizing goal against Germany when the officials failed to spot that a Frank Lampard shot bounced well behind the goal-line after hitting the bar. The incident reopened the debate over goal-line technology, which is now being used in Brazil.
Capello said Algeria’s goal came from a free kick that shouldn’t have been awarded, following an earlier foul on a Russian player, and that goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev had been put off by a laser beam fired into his eyes during that free kick. Islam Slimani’s headed equalizer in the 60th minute came after Akinfeev failed to get to the swinging left-foot free kick from Yacine Brahimi.
“If there is something that I need to complain about in this World Cup it is the treatment we had from the referees,” he said. “I’ve always kept my mouth shut, now it’s over.”
Capello said his team played to plan in the match against Algeria, which Russia had to win to qualify for the second round. The team started strongly and was purposeful in attack until Algeria leveled.
“I can’t say there were any mistakes today, there just weren’t,” he said.
Capello indicated that he would be happy for more of his players to gain experience abroad as the country prepares to host the 2018 World Cup. The whole Russian squad was entirely made up of players playing in the domestic league.
“When you play matches in international cups you glean a lot of experience, experience acquired abroad can help you,” he said. “It can instil great competitiveness, we always play among ourselves.”
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