World Cup: Capello still believes in Russian chances

RIO DE JANEIRO: Fabio Capello insisted Sunday he believes his Russian charges will put the last-gasp loss to Belgium behind them and reach the second round of the World Cup.

Thousands of Russian fans swarmed the Rio beaches ahead of their match against the Red Devils -- but a goal by Divock Origi put a massive dampener on their fiesta at the Maracana.

Divock Origi
Belgium's Divock Origi scores the opening goal past Russia's goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev during the match between Belgium and Russia. - AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev

The 2018 World Cup hosts will now have to beat an Algeria side which found its goalscoring touch with a vengeance in Sunday's other Group H game -- beating South Korea 4-2 -- or else head back early to Moscow.

That would be a another mission unaccomplished for Capello, whose stellar reputation from club level and a welter of successes with AC Milan and Real Madrid took a knock with England's flop in 2010.

But the 68-year-old said he thought his side would come through and join the Belgians in the next phase -- where they may find Germany awaiting them.

"Of course I still believe. We have no other option than to go out and beat Algeria," Capello told reporters as he assessed the loss on the back of a disappointing draw with South Korea.
Algeria's goal spree against the South Koreans showed the opening game was there for the taking only for Igor Akinfeev's howler in conceding the softest of goals to deny them.

That incident showed up one of a number of parallels between Capello's Russian campaign and the desultory England showing in South Africa.

There, a goalkeeping blunder from Robert Green set the tone while the Three Lions also met Algeria.

A win over Slovenia meant that a draw on that occasion with the North Africans was ultimately enough to secure qualification -- before Germany extinguished England's hopes.

This time, Capello needs a win.

Having left opening match scorer Aleksandr Kerzhakov on the bench once again as well as creative instigator Alan Dzagoev, Capello appeared to be guilty of some, if not excessive, caution.

But he blamed going for the win at the end as the reason for ending up empty-handed.

"We were playing to win it. I threw on Alan Dzagoev because I thought we could win -- we were making some dangerous chances for ourselves when they went out and scored against us on the counter-attack."

Russia are making their first appearance at the finals since 2002 and Capello said inexperience on such a huge stage was a factor.

"The pressure was on us in the first game with so many debutants (in fact, Kerzhakov is their only survivor from 12 years ago).

"The important thing about playing a first World Cup in 12 years is that it helps us to ascertain the level which we need to be at in order to hold our own in these competitions," Capello insisted.

Capello will still be at the helm when the Russians welcome the world in four years time after recently extending a lucrative contract.

But for now they will look back on a golden missed chance by Aleksandr Kokorin as indicative of their struggles to find the net so far.

With Algeria on the goals trail, the miss risks proving expensive after the Russians continued a run of failure against the Belgians dating back to the demise of the old Soviet Union.