Russia vs South Korea – Saturday, October 7, 15:00BT/16:00 CET – VEB Arena, Moscow.
After playing Dinamo Moscow after the September international break, Russia are back to playing real international friendlies. For October the Russian Football Union managed to find two challenging opponents from the Asian Football Confederation in South Korea and Iran. First up will be South Korea in what will be the Sbornaya’s first proper international since the disappointment of not qualifying out of the group stage of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup last summer.
The tournament in Russia last summer only furthered the doom and gloom that surrounds the Sbornaya at the moment. The Russian national team is simply put not strong enough to put together a team that could play a major role at the 2018 FIFA World Cup next summer, let alone win the tournament.
That sense of doom and gloom was furthered by the fact that the Russian Football Union failed to find a suitable opponent for the September fixture. As a result, a friendly against Dinamo Moscow was arranged with Cherchesov fielding a highly experimental Russian side. The Sbornaya won the match at Khimki Arena 2-0, but with the game not counting as a full international match many of the players, who dressed for the Sbornaya for the first time will have felt somewhat unfulfilled by the experience.
The likes of 1.FC Köln midfielder Konstantin Rausch will now get another opportunity to play for Russia. Rausch is one of two ethnic Germans in the Russia squad—the other one is Roman Neustädter. Like Neustädter Rausch was born in the Soviet Union, but his family quickly made a move to Germany following the collapse of communism in the post-Soviet space. With no prospect of featuring for Germany Rausch now wants to fulfil his World Cup dream by playing for Russia next summer. Another naturalised player, who could finally make his first official match for Russia is CSKA Moscow
Another naturalised player, who could finally make his first official game for Russia is CSKA Moscow right-back, Mario Fernandes. The Brazilian born winger joined CSKA in 2012 and has since successfully applied for a Russian passport and will likely feature against South Korea.
South Korea in the meantime have successfully qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia after finishing second in Group A of AFC World Cup qualifying behind Iran—Russia’s next opponent. It was, however, not an easy road to Russia for South Korea. After defeats to Qatar and China head coach Uli Stielike was fired and replaced with current head coach Shin Tae-yong. The former youth coach spent most of his career playing in South Korea with IIhwa Chunma (now Seongnam FC) scoring 76 goals in 296 K League games.
Shin Tae-yong got the job done for South Korea by drawing Iran and Uzbekistan to salvage second place in the group and avoiding the AFC Fourth Round, which will determine the one team that will play against the fourth-placed team from the CONCACAF hexagonal.
Russia vs South Korea – Players to look out for:
Aleksandr Kokorin #11 Russia (Zenit Saint Petersburg)
After being omitted from the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup squad, Aleksandr Kokorin is back with the Sbornaya thanks to a terrific start to the new season. The forward has scored eight goals and two assists in 12 Russian Football Premier League games and added another seven goals in six UEFA Europa League matches. With 15 goals in 18 matches, Kokorin finally shows the full extent of his talent thanks to new Zenit head coach Roberto Mancini, who seems to bring out the best in the forward.
Heung-Min Son #7 South Korea (Tottenham Hotspur)
Tottenham Hotspur winger Heung-Min Son is the country’s biggest football star. Educated in the Hamburger SV football academy Son had his big breakthrough with Bayer Leverkusen in the 2013-14 season. Lightning fast Son can play all three attacking positions up front. He is Korea’s most dangerous player and on a good day represents world class and a good task for Russia’s defence.
Russia vs South Korea – Match Stats
- This is only the third ever match between the two countries.
- Russia’s record against South Korea is W1 D1
- The two teams last met at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil drawing 1-1.
- Stanislav Cherchesov has a losing record as the national team coach of Russia (W2 D2 L3).
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Russia vs South Korea 2-2
Russia vs South Korea – Possible Lineups
Akinfeev – Dzhikiya, Kutepov, Vasin – Rausch, Anton Miranchuk, Kuzyaev, Erokhin Mário Fernandes – Aleksey Miranchuk, Kokorin
Coach: Stanislav Cherchesov
Kim – KH. Kim, Jang, MH. Kim – JS. Kim, Jung, Koo, Ki – Son, Ji, Lee
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.