February 21, 2019

Putin backing 'boosts' Russian Federation before World Cup quarter-final

10 July 2018, 04:38 | Devin Moran

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is "proud" of the national soccer team, Interfax news agency cited a Kremlin spokesman as saying, after Russia lost to Croatia on penalties in a World Cup quarter-final match on Saturday.

Coach Stanislav Cherchesov led his team onto a stage to a heroes' welcome in a Moscow fan zone on a sunny day that was meant to put a patriotic exclamation point on Russia's ability to beat the odds.

He said at a press conference, "Our prime minister was in our changing room".

"He has been calling me, he called me before and after the game with Spain", Cherchesov said.

"This is a great step but let us look forward". He told Reuters a year ago, "if countries are going to have nukes, we're going to be at the top of the pack".

In advance of the summit, USA ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, briefed President Trump during a one-on-one conference call Thursday - saying that Trump will go into the meeting with "eyes wide open".

"While the tournament is still going on we see the team who was, theoretically, one of the best - Spain - have packed and gone home already".

"My guess is that that will be part of the discussion as well, but I don't want to get ahead of the possible summit conversations", Huntsman said.

"I know they are playing at a very high level".

The team was ranked 70th in the world by Federation Internationale de Football Association before the World Cup started, making the host nation the lowest ranking side in the event.

He also responded to a question on whether the team enjoyed the trust of the country. "Thank you from the bottom of my soul - we love you".

"We trusted ourselves. We could only prove our worth by working hard", Cherchesov said.

"As in any other part of the world, you have to start by sitting down at the negotiating table, lay out your concerns and talk about how to resolve them on a mutually acceptable basis", Lavrov told reporters in Moscow. "We will have do something with our players to play against them and individually our players will have to play well".

The former Nigeria worldwide who had tipped Stanislav Cherchesov's side for a place in the last four but was sad to see them bow out.

The US president, whose 2016 election campaign is being probed for possible collusion with Russian Federation, has said repeatedly he wants to have a good relationship with Washington's former Cold War foe, despite tensions between Russian Federation and the West over Ukraine, Syria and alleged election meddling around the world.

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