President Vladimir Putin has invited the Russian football players and their manager Stanislav Cherchesov to the Kremlin to discuss their performance at the World Cup, where the team sensationally reached the quarter-finals.
“Putin called Cherchesov on Saturday to wish him good luck before the [quarter-final] match,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, TASS reported.
“They had a telephone conversation again after the match, with Putin praising the team for their beautiful and strong-willed performance in the historic game against Croatia.”
“The president has invited the team manager and football players to attend a meeting dedicated to the World Cup results and the tournament’s heritage in Russia,” he added.
The Russian team, which was the lowest-ranked nation at the tournament, not only managed to make it past the group stage by winning two of their three games, but also charged into the quarter-final by knocking out 2010 world champions Spain in the last-16 round.
Cherchesov’s men produced a courageous performance in the quarter-final against Croatia, netting an equalizer with less than five minutes remaining in the game. However, the players’ last-minute heroics were not enough to book a spot in the semi-final, as the hosts were beaten 4-3 by Croatia in a heartbreaking penalty shootout.
Despite the disappointing loss, Sbornaya’s results at the home championship were considered remarkable by many football pundits, who said the players had brought football in Russia to a completely different level, making the entire country proud.