Cherchesov sets bar high for Russia


New Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov has refused to dismiss the hosts' chances of winning the World Cup in 2018, but knows the task is enormous.

Cherchesov took over the national team this month following the departure of Leonid Slutsky, who oversaw a miserable Euro 2016 campaign.

Russia have qualified for the next FIFA showpiece automatically, meaning Cherchesov will have only friendly matches with which to rebuild a side that has not progressed beyond the group stage of a major tournament since reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2008.

However, the former national team goalkeeper will not discount the unlikely prospect of mounting a meaningful challenge on home soil.

"By nature, I'm an all-or-nothing person," he told the FIFA website.

"The Olympic spirit that it's all about taking part is not for me. If you're competing at a tournament, you should be setting the bar high.

"Ultimately, you always have a chance of winning. 

"It's a separate issue, on the other hand, that right now we don't have a team at that level. 

"Our first obstacle is to build a new team, prepare for our first friendlies and only then can we start thinking about objectives."

Cherchesov is well aware that both the players and the country itself will be under scrutiny during one of the biggest sporting events on the planet.

"It's fantastic that the World Cup is coming to Russia," he said.

"The eyes of the whole world will be on our country. The most important thing is that all the infrastructure - stadiums, airports and so on - will continue to be used after the tournament.

"Do I feel any heightened sense of responsibility? If I start thinking in those terms, nothing good will come of it. Coaching is my job and I need to approach it as I would any other - calmly and scrupulously."