Russia coach Fabio Capello on Monday named his final 23-man squad to play in the World Cup finals led by experienced defender Sergei Ignashevich, midfielder Roman Shirokov and forward Alexander Kerzhakov. The 31-year-old Kerzhakov is the only player in the squad who has previous World Cup experience having been in the squad that competed in 2022, the last time Russia reached the final stages. Capello trimmed his original squad of 30 down to 25 in mid-May and the two players to miss out on being in the final selection were Denis Cheryshev from Spanish hi-flyers Sevilla and Pavel Mogilevets of Rubin Kazan.
The former England manager, who recently extended his contract with the Russian Football Union until the end of the 2018 World Cup, retained talented youngsters like like Andrei Semenov and Maxim Kanunnikov. He named his final squad two days after a 1-1 draw with Norway in a friendly match. Last month Russia defeated Slovakia 1-0 in their first World Cup warm-up match.
All of Capello`s squad are from Russian Premier League sides including six from Dynamo Moscow, who finished fourth in the league this season. Five players represent champions CSKA, who retained their title this season, and four are from runners-up Zenit St Petersburg. Russia will open their World Cup campaign against South Korea on June 18.
Capello`s side have been drawn in World Cup Group H, which also has Belgium and Algeria as they make their first appearance at the finals in 12 years. The last time Russia played in the World Cup finals in 2002 they went up against Belgium, Japan and Tunisia, but failed to advance into the knock-out stages.
The best performance by a Russian team in the World Cup dates back to 1966 in England when the then Soviet Union came fourth.
Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Yury Lodygin (Zenit St Petersburg), Sergei Ryzhikov (Rubin Kazan).
Defenders: Vasily Berezutsky, Sergei Ignashevich, Georgy Shchennikov (all CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Granat, Alexei Kozlov (both Dynamo Moscow), Andrei Yeshchenko (Anzhi Makhachkala), Dmitry Kombarov (Spartak Moscow), Andrei Semenov (Terek Grozny).
Midfielders: Igor Denisov, Yury Zhirkov (both Dynamo Moscow), Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow), Roman Shirokov (FC Krasnodar), Denis Glushakov (Spartak Moscow), Viktor Faizulin, Oleg Shatov (both Zenit St Petersburg).
Forwards: Alexander Kerzhakov (Zenit St Petersburg), Alexei Ionov, Alexander Kokorin (both Dynamo Moscow), Maxim Kanunnikov (Amkar Perm), Alexander Samedov (Lokomotiv Moscow).