25 years of ‘Sbornaya’: Russian international football celebrates silver jubilee

25 years of ‘Sbornaya’: Russian international football celebrates silver jubilee
Exactly 25 years ago the Russian men’s national football team played the first game in their history versus Mexico.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 meant the final major championship contested by the USSR national football team was the Italia ‘90 World Cup.

The country took its place at the 1992 European Championship under the provisional name CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), and adopted Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 as its anthem.

After Euro ‘92, at which the CIS team finished bottom of the group, the former Soviet republics began competing as independent nations, and world football’s governing body FIFA allocated the Soviet team’s record to the new Russia national team.

The first match in the new era of Russian football was against Mexico in a friendly match held at Moscow’s Lokomotiv Stadium on August 16, 1992, before a crowd of 15,000 spectators.

On the scoresheet for Russia that day were Spartak Moscow duo Valery Karpin, who netted a penalty on 61 minutes, and Dmitry Popov, who bagged a second five minutes later to give Russia a 2-0 win in their maiden match.

Keeping a clean sheet in goal and captaining Russia in that match was current national team manager Stanislav Cherchesov, who led his country in their most recent outing against Mexico in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup Group A game in Kazan.

This time however, Mexico had the last laugh, winning 2-1 and advancing at the expense of the host nation, with the winning goal coming via a goalkeeping error from Igor Akinfeev.

READ MORE: ‘This is my mistake, I will take it upon myself’ - Russia manager Cherchesov on Confed Cup

Since the team’s formation, the country have gone on to reach the semifinals of the 2008 European Championship and perhaps recorded their proudest result by beating World Cup holders France 3-2 at the Stade de France in Paris in 1999.

However, Russia currently hold a FIFA world ranking of 62nd, a rating they must improve on if they are to have the same success at their home World Cup Russia 2018 next summer.