Russia boss Stanislav Cherchesov has revealed that he was congratulated by Russian president Vladimir Putin after his side beat Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening match of the World Cup.
Speaking to reports after the game, Cherchesov told reporters (per Agence-France Presse): “The head of state called me and congratulated me, told me to keep playing the way we were, to keep going.”
Despite receiving strong criticism before the match, the 54-year-old revealed that he is ‘relaxed’ as his side look towards their second game of the tournament against Egypt on Tuesday.
“I am relaxed. Why should I be stressed?” Cherchesov asked. “This is just the start and not the end. Just a little more and the score could have been 1-1,” said the former national team goalkeeper.
“Today was simply proof that we are on the right track, but we have to turn the page and look at the next game. Our opponents will be getting stronger by the match.”
He also admitted that his side have been positive leading up to the tournament, but knows that things will only get more difficult from here, with games against Egypt and Uruguay to come.
“After the draw we started understanding and seeing there is a crescendo,” he explained, per BBC Sport.
“We made the first step, then there is a stronger opponent. We don’t know if Mohamed Salah is going to play [in the match against Egypt]. With him or without him it is a respectably strong team, with him stronger obviously. It is just a different adversary.”