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Kozak: Russia players do not deserve disqualification

Slovakia head coach Jan Kozak believes Russia players and coaching staff would not deserve to be kicked out of Euro 2016 due to fan trouble.

UEFA handed the Russian Football Union (RFS) a €150,000 fine and a suspended disqualification from the tournament following the attack on English fans by Russian hooligans after the final whistle in Saturday’s 1-1 draw in Marseille.

Coach Leonid Slutsky appealed to supporters to behave ahead of their second Group B match against Slovakia in Lille on Wednesday in order to avoid such a suspension from being brought into play.

And Kozak, who described the fan clashes which have marred the tournament so far as “a pity”, says the players and coaches would become the undeserving victims of any further UEFA action.

“To be honest, if there are things I can’t control then I don’t think much about them. But it’s a pity, it’s a great championship and I’m enjoying the atmosphere immensely. It was a great experience in Bordeaux,” he said.

“I hope the emotions drop down and there is great football. Football is for people, the Russian players or coach would not deserve anything bad because it’s all about football here.”

Slutsky attempted to turn up the pressure on Slovakia by claiming that Russia would not be favourites for Wednesday’s game, and but Kozak welcomed the idea of being expected to win after what he described as an “unnecessary defeat” to Wales last weekend.

“I don’t know what they meant but of course, the arrival of Slutsky has helped the team improve,” he said. “He relied especially on the CSKA Moscow players and there are maybe six, plus those from Zenit and one from [Kuban] Krasnodar, who may play tomorrow, so they know each other very well.

“Of course we have analysed the match, we have prepared for them. Our team is experienced enough and we have a certain idea how to approach the match. It will be a tough match and, for us, it’s very important for us if we want to qualify from the group.

“We are a team who have been quite consistent of course, there are matches against Wales where we lost. It was unnecessary but life goes on. I would wish for them to be right because the favourites usually win!

“When I analysed it, the Welsh were not better but they made the most of the few mistakes we made. We didn’t convert our chances. It was unnecessary but football is like that, we have an experienced team and we have to pick ourselves up. We can show how strong we are on a personal and football level against Russia.

“All players are fit and ready to play. The match calls for certain changes in the line-up – not because the players against Wales disappointed me – but that’s football. I will make some changes.”

Tue 14 Jun, 2016
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