Saturday 23 June 2018, 20:39

Ignashevich happy to hold back time

  • Sergei Ignashevich is Russia's most-capped player and their oldest-ever player

  • He retired from the national team in 2016 but returned for the World Cup

  • “I’m happy we qualified because it has extended my international career”

By Igor Borunov with Russia

Having scored eight goals in their first two games at the 2018 FIFA World Cup™, Russia’s attack fully merits all the plaudits heading in their direction. However, the Sbornaya’s defence also deserves a mention for only conceding one goal in 180 minutes of play – a penalty from Mohamed Salah.

A huge hand in this achievement was played by 38-year-old centre-back Sergei Ignashevich, who accepted Stanislav Cherchesov’s call to return after almost two years away from the national team following an injury crisis that claimed Georgy Dzhikiya, Viktor Vasin and Ruslan Kambolov. Nevertheless Ignashevich modestly explains how Russia’s superlative rear-guard effort is credit to the whole side.

“We prepared well, so qualifying from the group is the deserved result for the work we've done,” Ignashevich said. “Our coaches analysed our opponents in detail and we attacked their weak spots. We hit Saudi Arabia and Egypt where it hurt.

“The lads in midfield, Yuri Gazinsky and Roman Zobnin especially, are getting through an unbelievable amount of work in front of the defence. Maybe it’s not that obvious from the sidelines, but Ilya Kutepov and I really feel it. Essentially we just have to make sure we stay error-free.”

Russia v Egypt: Group A - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia