The Russian national football team, in preparation for a friendly match against the Qatar team, held an open training session in the Arctic . On the field in the village of Belokamenka, Murmansk region, where a Russian Cup match was held a few days earlier, the best of those called up to the national team gathered.
The September training camp of the Russian national team differs from previous ones in the difficult logistics and number of matches. On September 7 and 11, players under 23 years of age will play with the Egyptian Olympic team in Suez, and on September 12, the team will meet with the Qatar national team in Al-Wakra at one of the World Cup stadiums. 22 young players, led by head coach Valery Karpin, will return from Egypt on the night of September 8th to return there on September 10th for the second game. In it, the team will no longer be led by Karpin – he and the team will fly to Doha.
Taking into account the number of matches, 49 players were called to the training camp. On September 5, Zenit defender Vyacheslav Karavaev and Dynamo forward Konstantin Tyukavin left the national team for medical reasons. Taking into account those who flew to Egypt, the coaching staff could count on 25 players. But not everyone flew to Murmansk. Dynamo defender and midfielder Dmitry Skopintsev and Daniil Fomin, as well as Lokomotiv and Rostov midfielders Sergei Pinyaev and Danil Glebov remained at the base.
Murmansk greeted the Russian team with coolness and a slight wind blowing from the Barents Sea. Players will only fully appreciate the temperature contrast after a few days. If the team immediately flew to Qatar, the difference would be more than 30 degrees. And so, the team will have a few more days at the base in Novogorsk.
Before the start of the open training, the coaching staff and players of the national team first went up to the observation deck, which offered a panoramic view of the Kola Bay, and then visited the workshop for assembling platform modules of the Center for the Construction of Large-Capacity Offshore Structures. For safety reasons, everyone was given a helmet.
And right next to the field where the 2Drots football players beat Dynamo Kirov a few days earlier, the football players were expected by more than 200 children from the Murmansk, Chelyabinsk and Kostroma regions, who are participants in the Russian Football Union (RFU) “Football at School” project. The site was divided into six zones, in each of which boys and girls had a chance to play with or against their idols.
The difference in the attitude of the players towards “sparring” with children was striking. Spartak players Georgy Dzhikia and Alexander Sobolev, as well as current and former army players Fedor Chalov and Alexander Golovin were fooling around, giving those around them a feeling of a real holiday. At one point, Dzhikia depicted universal agony from minimal touch from the opponent, if there was any at all. Railway workers Anton Miranchuk and Dmitry Baranov, as well as Spartak players Anton Zinkovsky and Ruslan Litvinov approached the matter more seriously – there was a place for dribbling several opponents at a time, and heel goals.
Russian national team coach Viktor Onopko answered the question of whether it is possible to draw conclusions from the dedication in training against children and the attitude towards it. “It’s normal, some guys are a little sweaty. It’s normal when some move a little more, while others perceive it as a show. Some people don’t like to give in even in training with children, although no one fights,” he said.
“This is a good trip to popularize football – it is developing in all regions of our country. We ourselves saw how many children are present. For the guys, for the Russian national team, this is a very positive moment. We do not lose our training tone, since we knew in advance that this would happen departure and were preparing. Yesterday we had a training session, today we had a more restorative lesson. The game will be on September 12, we are preparing, we have everything planned,” added Onopko.
National team goalkeeper Matvey Safonov noted the positive impact of the opportunity to kick the ball with children. “Playing with children is a little distracting, but I think no one needs a reboot. There haven’t been training camps for a long time, I think everyone will be mentally and physically ready for the match. I miss (the national team’s matches),” he said.
Scheduled joint training turned into signing autographs and a photo shoot with your favorite players. Of the performers in the RPL, Spartak players were the most fond of them. But the only foreign player in the national team, Alexander Golovin, who came to the national team for the first time since November 2021, was out of competition. It was time for the team to prepare to return to Moscow, but the happy children did not want to let him go without a selfie.
RFU Vice President Denis Solovyov, assessing the football festival in Belokamenka, said , that I would like to hold open training sessions for the Russian national team in Kamchatka and China. “Such an event is an emotional reboot for football players. It’s good when you get new impressions. All the guys are happy. I would like to hold more similar events in Chelyabinsk, Kamchatka. If it turns out that the national team will play with China, then why not go there ?” – he said.