MOSCOW, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Factbox on World Cup qualifiers
Form and Prospects
Russia won Europe's Group F ahead of Portugal, having sealed
their berth in next year's finals after a 1-1 draw at Azerbaijan
in their conclusive qualifier.
Having not reached the World Cup since 2002, Russia
recruited Fabio Capello and they collected 22 points from seven
wins and the draw at Azerbaijan with away defeats by Portugal
and Northern Ireland the only blemishes.
Russia are a disciplined and well-organised team, who
conceded only five goals during the qualifying campaign but lack
flair and creativity in midfield and can struggle against
Capello moulded them into a competitive, if unspectacular
team, and the Italian will need all his key men on top form to
make an impact in Brazil.
The Italian coach continues to ignore calls from the media
and fans to bring back former captain Andrey Arshavin despite
the experienced midfielder's good recent form for his club Zenit
Coach: Fabio Capello
A former Italy midfielder with a remarkable record of
success as a club coach, winning domestic titles with Milan, AS
Roma, Juventus and Real Madrid and the European Cup with Milan.
Capello led England to the 2010 World Cup finals and then
the Euro 2012 finals but resigned a few months before the
He took over as Russia coach in July last year, replacing
Dutchman Dick Advocaat and quickly instilled a new sense of
discipline and personal responsibility.
The Italian has yet to sign a contract extension but he is
expected to put pen to paper on a new four-year deal that will
see him stay in charge for the World Cup finals in 2018 which
will be hosted by Russia.
Key player: Alexander Kerzhakov
The Zenit St Petersburg striker is the country's most
prolific scorer with 211 goals in competitive matches.
Kerzhakov made his Russia debut in March 2002 and was part
of Oleg Romantsev's squad at the World Cup finals in Japan and
South Korea. The forward also played at the Euro 2004 and the
He scored 24 goals in 77 internationals and is two strikes
short of Vladimir Beschastnykh's record. In 2006 he joined
Sevilla, helping the Spanish side win the UEFA Cup, Copa del Rey
and the Spanish Supercup in 2007.
How they qualified: Winners European Group F
Sept 7 N. Ireland H W 2-0 Faizulin, Shirokov pen
Sept 11 Israel A W 4-0 Kerzhakov 2, Kokorin
Oct 12 Portugal H W 1-0 Kerzhakov
Oct 16 Azerbaijan H W 1-0 Shirokov pen
June 7 Portugal A L 1-0
June 11 N.Ireland A L 1-0
Sept 6 Luxembourg H W 4-1 Kokorin 2, Kerzhakov
Sept 10 Israel H W 3-1 Berezutski, Kokorin
Oct 11 Luxembourg A W 4-0 Samedov, Faizulin
Oct 15 Azerbaijan A D 1-1 Shirokov
World Cup record
Previous appearances: 7 as Soviet Union team, 2 as Russia
(1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 2002)
Best performance: 4th in 1966
Odds: William Hill odds to win World Cup (Nov 2013): 80-1
(Writing by Angel Krasimirov; editing by Martyn Herman)