(AFP) – Russia’s coach Fabio Capello insisted he would stick with goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev to play Belgium on Sunday despite his costly blunder against South Korea.
Capello called the 28-year-old one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
Akinfeev fumbled a shot by South Korea’s Lee Keun-Ho into his own goal in their Group H match on Tuesday. Russia had to fight back to scrape a draw and Capello now faces mounting criticism for the performance.
“I had decided after the mistake that Akinfeev would stay because he’s a great goalkeeper,” the Italian told a press conference.
“I never thought about changing him. He’s one of the best in the world.”
Capello said he expected a lot of pressure on Akinfeev from Belgium in Sunday’s game. He said Belgium have “surprised all of Europe.”
Capello also furiously slammed a journalist who said the Russian team had shown disrespect to their supporters after their 1-1 draw with South Korea.
“Liar,” shouted Capello at the press conference with Russian captain Vasily Berezutski.
The Russian journalist had challenged Berezutski, saying people were “very disappointed” that the players had not acknowledged their supporters.
“Don’t talk rubbish,” said Capello. “I was in the middle of the field. My players acknowledged the supporters. Everyone in Russia must know that you are lying. Tell the truth please.”