Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov says he hopes Belgium will win the World Cup, but that he is not planning to watch the remainder of the tournament after his team were knocked out in the quarter-finals.
Russia’s World Cup dream was ended in Sochi on Saturday when they suffered an agonizing 4-3 penalty shootout defeat to Croatia, after the scores had finished level at 2-2 following extra-time.
Cherchesov and the team were nonetheless lauded for their historic World Cup run, which had seen the team reach the knockout stages for the first time since not competing as part of the Soviet Union.
Appearing on Russian TV show ‘Time will Tell’, Cherchesov said he wouldn’t be watching the remaining games at the World Cup.
He added, however, that he would be supporting Belgium as they bid to overcome France in the semi-final.
“I’ll be supporting Belgium. I know the coach, Roberto Martinez. I like him. We bumped into each other in Brugges recently…”
“I’ll watch matches later, as a trainer. But at the moment football is for the fans,” he added.
Cherchesov went into the tournament under fire with the team on a running of seven games without a win and as the lowest-ranked nation at the World Cup.
However, Russia qualified for the knockout stages with room to spare after comfortably beating Saudi Arabia and Egypt in their opening two games, before beating a heavily-fancied Spain team on penalties in the last 16.
They came close to repeating their heroics against Croatia on Saturday, but fell short in the penalty shootout. However, Cherchesov and the team have been hailed as heroes for their unexpected run.
Belgium and France kick off the World Cup semi-finals on Tuesday when they meet in St. Petersburg.
The Belgians saw off Brazil with a thrilling 2-1 win in the quarter-finals, with Martinez calling on the talents of a group of players dubbed ‘The Golden Generation.’
France eased past Uruguay 2-0 in their quarter-final, and have the blistering pace of teenage star Kylian Mbappe in attack, as well as the midfield talents of Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann.
England meet Croatia in the other semi-final at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday, with the World Cup final taking at the same venue on July 15.