Russia rubbish FIFA’s ranking, ‘spell’ Saudi 5-0

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World Cup hosts, Russia, yesterday defied FIFA’s ranking as the lowest-ranked side in the 2018 World Cup, getting off to a 5-0 emphatic opening Group A win against Saudi Arabia.

Though, the Russians played against probably the weakest team in the tournament, the 5-0 scoreline was the biggest winning margin in the history of World Cup opening matches. It outstripped Brazil 4-0 victory against Mexico in 1950.

Yury Gazinsky put Russia ahead in the 12 minutes, while the host doubled their lead just before half-time when Denis Cheryshev finished emphatically from close range

Substitute Artem Dzyuba made it 3-0 with his touch after coming on via his head with 19 minutes remaining, and Cheryshev added his second of the day with a breathtaking left-footed strike in injury time.

And Aleksandr Golovin completed the scoreline just moments later with a well-taken free-kick.

Meanwhile, Super Eagles technical adviser, Gernot Rohr, declared yesterday that the team was “physically and mentally ready” for their first match tomorrow against Croatia.

Tomorrow will mark Nigeria’s sixth appearance at the FIFA World Cup finals, in seven tournaments since making her debut at the 1994 finals in the USA.

In previous outings, the Eagles had made it to the Round of 16 on three occasions – the only African team to have gone that far that many times. This was in 1994, 1998 and 2014.

The team failed to emerge from the group stage in 2002 and 2010.

Rohr, a former German international defender who coached the national senior teams of Burkina Faso, Niger Republic and Gabon, and top Tunisia Club Etoile du Sahel before taking charge of the Super Eagles two years ago, insisted that his wards are in no mood to play second fiddle at the Kaliningrand Stadium.

“We are looking forward to the match with a lot of optimism. It will be a tough one, but we are physically and mentally ready.

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