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2 May, 2018 05:07

Russians must grab fans’ energy & make them proud at home FIFA World Cup – Desailly to RT

The pressure will be huge on the Russian football team as hosts of the FIFA World Cup this summer, but players must capitalize on the home fans’ support and make their country proud, French football legend Marcel Desailly told RT.

RT asked Desailly to picture himself as Team Russia’s coach at the World Cup, with the Frenchman saying he would tell his players: “Nothing to lose, guys. It’s the moment to make a name. The whole world has come to us, so let’s enjoy [ourselves].”

The World Cup 1998 and Euro 2000 winner said that the national team manager should “juggle between motivating the guys, but at the same time… relax them and make them feel free about the event, because too much pressure will kill the performance.”

However, he pointed out that Russian players should “know what the pressure is in the Russian league,” which he described as a “good” tournament. “They should just be themselves and make the nation proud of their performance.”

“I hope for Russia to also have the same sort of experience that we had 20 years ago when we won the World Cup,” the 49-year-old said. Back then, there was “huge pressure” on the French team as the World Cup hosts, “but we have captured this pressure and put it into performance.”

While Desailly admitted Team Russia “don’t have the quality that we were having,” with the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Fabien Barthez and Youri Djorkaeff on the French lineup in 1998, he added that he still hopes that “they will be able to grab some of the energy that the fans, the country will give them” and produce a solid display.

The Russian national team will take on Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay in Group A of the tournament.

READ MORE: Gold bars & guitars: The Peter Schmeichel Show heads to World Cup host city Ekaterinburg

At the same time, the legendary defender expressed great confidence in the current generation of French footballers, saying that France’s national team coach, another 1998 world champion, Didier Deschamps, “has the squad to win this World Cup.”

Besides France, he singled out Brazil as Russia 2018 favorites. Top Brazilian player Neymar will miss the event through injury, but “there’s some kind of spirit in the remaining players that they’re now sticking together to compensate for the fact that Neymar isn’t there,” the Frenchman added.

Speaking of other worthy World Cup contenders, Desailly said: “Croatia – wow! – like Belgium, they are one of those teams that potentially can be the surprise of the tournament.”

The football great was talking to RT in Ekaterinburg, where he arrived to check out the city’s preparations for the World Cup, which kicks off on June 14. He assessed Russia is now 98 percent ready for the planet’s biggest sporting event, with the country’s authorities “doing well” in delivering on their promise to construct state-of-the-art arenas and infrastructure.

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