Russia ‘still preparing’ for football match despite deadly clashes
The Russian men’s national football team are still preparing for their friendly match against Kyrgyzstan despite the deadly clashes which have erupted in recent days on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border.
The match which is set for Bishkek on Saturday will be Russia’s first since last November, and is part of three friendly internationals that Russian football officials have planned for the autumn.
The other two games are set to be against Iran and Bosnia and Herzegovina, both in November.
But uncertainty has emerged regarding Saturday’s meeting in Bishkek after intense border clashes between Kyrgyzstan and fellow former Soviet state Tajikistan have left dozens dead in recent days.
In light of the situation, Russian head coach Valery Karpin has said the team will accept any decision if the authorities decide not to go ahead with the game.
“We’re not following the situation in Kyrgyzstan, it makes no sense. If they say we aren’t going, we won’t go,” said Karpin.
When asked if Russia had a contingency for a new opponent if the match falls through, Karpin replied: “I don’t know, anything’s possible.”
Karpin’s assistant coach Nikolai Pisarev said that the squad would meet up this week as planned at their Novogorsk training complex just outside Moscow.
“We’re sitting at the training camp in Novogorsk and getting ready for the match. There has been no news about the cancelation of the match,” Pisarev told Sport-Express.
The Russian squad are due to train at Novogorsk from September 19 to 22 before departing to Bishkek for Saturday’s game.
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have traded blame for the latest flare-up of a long-running border conflict.
On Friday, skirmishes escalated into full-blown fighting which has left almost 100 people dead, according to reports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin at the weekend called on both of the Central Asian nations to take steps to resolve the situation through peaceful, diplomatic means.
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan share a 1,000km border, the demarcation of which they are unable to fully agree on.
Should it proceed as planned, Russia’s football friendly match against Kyrgyzstan is set to be a rare chance for Karpin to see his team in action.
Russia last played an international game in November of 2021, when they lost a World Cup qualifying match against Croatia in Split.
All Russian teams have since been banned from UEFA and FIFA competitions because of the conflict in Ukraine.
That decision meant Russia were removed from their 2022 World Cup qualifying playoff semifinal against Poland scheduled for Moscow back in March, ending any hopes of Karpin’s team reaching the finals in Qatar.
While Russia are due to play Iran in November – most likely in Tehran – there is uncertainty surrounding the planned meeting with Bosnia and Herzegovina in St. Petersburg in the same month.
The Russian and Bosnian football authorities have both said the game is agreed in principle, although the latter have since said they will revisit the issue after facing a backlash and pressure from Ukrainian football officials to scrap the match.
UEFA has indicated that because the match will be a friendly held outside official competition, the organization has no influence on whether it can take place or not.