Cuiaba (Brazil), June 17 (IANS/EFE): Russia will end their 12-year absence from the World Cup when they face South Korea in their first Group H match at the Arena Pantanal here Wednesday.
Under veteran Italian coach Fabio Capello, Russia will be looking to leave their mark in Brazil since they play host to the mega event in 2018, reports EFE.
Capello replaced Dick Advocaat in July 2012 and then scripted Russia's qualification for the 2014 World Cup. His contract was extended in until the end of the 2018 World Cup that will be hosted by Russia.
In preparing the team, the Italian tactician relied on young players such as Alexander Kokorin, and out-of-favour players like Viktor Fayzulin and Alexander Samedov.
The Russians face familiar rivals in South Korea, whom they beat 2-1 in a friendly in Dubai last year in November.
Fayzulin knows that the Koreans would be tough to beat in speed.
“I liked the way they moved, I liked how sharp they were. They are disciplined. As a footballer, I find it hard to play against them. They are quick, small and sharp players,” he said.
For the Koreans, it is their eighth World Cup participation in a row. But with no glamorous star, Bayer Leverkusen’s Son Heung Min might be the team’s most notable footballer.
Coached by Hong Myung-Bo, who played in four World Cups, the last being in 2002, the Taeguk Warriors will look to achieving an opening win.