Valery Karpin’s squad played their first game of 2022 against Kyrgyzstan on Saturday © Dmitriy Golubovich/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images © Getty Images
Russia’s men’s national football team played their first match of 2022 in Kyrgyzstan’s capital of Bishkek on Saturday, winning 2-1 thanks to a last-gasp winner at the Dolen Omurzakov Stadium.
Russian teams are currently banned from international sporting competitions, which means their men’s football squad was unable to contest a Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying semi-final play-off against Poland in March.
Due to sanctions, Valery Karpin’s side hadn’t been in action since a 1-0 loss to Croatia in the qualifying group phase on November 14.
Russia started rustily, falling behind after Alimardon Shukurov connected with a Farkhat Musabekov pass and put the hosts 1-0 up by beating goalkeeper Matvey Safonov on 24 minutes.
Six minutes later, however, Russia responded when Aleksandr Sobolev converted a penalty to even the score 1-1.
Each team struggled to find a breakthrough during the rest of the match, but Daniil Utkin snatched victory for the visitors by scoring from outside the penalty area in the 89th minute.
Reacting to the result, Karpin told Championat that there was “no critical mood” in the Russia camp.
“Many things didn’t work out. As I said before the game, it was important to look at the players at this level,” Karpin added.
“It was a review. [There were] lots of newbies. Some were better [than others], some were worse. The game had some bugs, [but] this is understandable.”
Karpin confessed that neither he nor Kyrgyzstan knew whether their meeting would go ahead as recently as three days ago.
Russia are due to take on Iran in a friendly in November, plus Bosnia and Herzegovina in St. Petersburg in a showdown that the Ukrainian FA is looking to prevent.
Probed on further matches, Karpin answered: “They say let’s play. If they don’t say [that], we won’t play.”
To Championat, Russia and Manchester United legend Andrei Kanchelskis refused to be critical and pointed to the positives.
“[We] barely defeated Kyrgyzstan? Well, what did you want?” Kanchelskis asked.
“Now everyone has learned to play football. Hungary beat Germany 1-0 yesterday. It happens. The main thing is that we won. Positive emotions are the most important thing. Hard or not, this is a win. If there was a draw or defeat, it would be different.”
“[There is] nothing much to say now. Well done for winning! We are moving on and waiting for further actions by FIFA and UEFA,” added Kanchelskis, in the same week that Russia were excluded from Euro 2024 qualification. (RT)