'Putin invited me, otherwise I wouldn't have watched': Russia manager Cherchesov on World Cup final

'Putin invited me, otherwise I wouldn't have watched': Russia manager Cherchesov on World Cup final
Russia manager Stanislav Cherchesov has revealed he was persuaded to attend the World Cup final only by official invitation from Vladimir Putin that sat him near the Russian president, otherwise he wouldn't have watched the match.

Following Russia’s agonizing quarter-final exit at the tournament by a 4-3 penalty defeat to Croatia in Sochi on July 7, Cherchesov announced he did not intend to watch how the rest of the tournament unfolded. That included watching "Vatreni" take on France in the final a little over a week later. 

But despite heartache on the Black Sea Coast, Cherchesov revealed a cordial invite from Putin to watch the tournament’s showpiece match twisted his arm to fly in for the final at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 15.

“I didn’t want to watch the World Cup after our match with Croatia,” the 54-year-old said, Championat reported. “However, I received an official invitation from the president and we would be sitting near Vladimir Vladimirovich. That’s why I flew in for the final.

“Otherwise I wouldn’t have watched the match. It's natural that a little later, when everything had blown over, I would have watched the match without a problem,” he added.

At the final, Cherchesov and Putin watched a formidable France team defeat underdogs Croatia 4-2 to clinch their second World Cup, 20 years after their maiden win at their home tournament at France 98. After the match, Putin entered the field of play to hand out winners medals to the victorious French team despite a torrential downpour in Moscow soaking the president. 

READ MORE: Russia's Cherchesov among Best FIFA Men’s Coach 2018 nominees

Although they missed out on the final, Cherchesov’s team had already etched their names into national football history by becoming the first ever Russia side to advance from the group stage at their home World Cup, also achieving a best-ever finish at a tournament by reaching the quarter finals.

Luzhniki had already been a successful stomping ground for Russia, who had opened their World Cup account with an opening day whitewash of Saudi Arabia by a 5-0 scoreline. 'Sbornaya' then pulled off a shock 4-3 penalty shootout win over giants Spain in the last 16, but could not repeat their success in the next round versus Croatia.

On Wednesday, it was announced that Cherchesov had been nominated for the Best FIFA Men’s Coach 2018 by world football’s governing body in recognition of guiding the nation to new heights in football.

A day later, the Russian Football Union (RFU) announced they would extend Cherchesov’s contract for at least a further two years on a ‘2+2’ basis, worth €2.5 million (US$2.9 million) a year, although performance-related bonuses could see the figure rise to €3 million. The agreement means he will remain in charge until at least the European Championships in 2020, after which the option of a further two years will be discussed.