Andrei Kanchelskis is confident Russia will make a success of hosting the 2018 World Cup.
The Kremlin will host the group-stage draw for the finals on Friday, with concerns over hooliganism, racism and discrimination in the country once again coming to the fore in the build-up.
Former Manchester United, Everton and Rangers favourite Kanchelskis represented both the Soviet Union and Russia during his international career and he is bullish over the prospects of a memorable tournament as Germany prepare to defend their title.
“Of course, definitely [it will be] a very, very good World Cup,” he told Omnisport at the signing of his book Russian Winters: The Story of Andrei Kanchelskis (deCoubertin).
“I’ll say it – there is no problem. I know there has been a lot of criticism, a lot of people saying bad things about Russia. Listen, I believe in Russia.
“Definitely it is [going to be] a great, great World Cup. Everybody is very welcome at the World Cup.
“It’s the first time [the World Cup has been staged] in Russia and everybody has been waiting, especially the kids. They want to see the big teams, big names.”
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This fixation upon the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo is just as well, as Kanchelskis gives the Russian national team little chance of making an impression on the tournament.
Stanislav Cherchesov oversaw elimination in the group stages of the Confederations Cup on home soil earlier this year and they bowed out with a similar whimper at Euro 2016 – a 1-1 draw against England standing as a relative highlight.
The two countries could meet again, with Gareth Southgate’s men seeded in pot two, and Kanchelskis does not believe such an encounter would end well for the hosts.
“It’s no matter if Russia go to the next round or not because everybody is looking forward to June and the start of the World Cup,” he explained.
“If we go to play against England, Russia has no chance. It’s better if not, because at the moment the Russian team is not our best team. It’s better if we face lower teams in the draw.”
The 48-year-old would not be surprised to see Joachim Low’s Germany retain their crown but holds out hope for a run deep into the competition for the nation he called home during his 1990s heyday.
“I think Germany are favourites; Brazil are playing very well at the moment, with a nice team, young team,” Kancheslskis added.
“Spain, of course Spain, and maybe Argentina. Four teams maybe [are favourites].
“We always we speak about England, always it is good, good, good team, a big country and after just winning the 1966 World Cup. Only in the newspapers [do they say] England are good.
“[At Brazil 2014] there were problems. They are a good team. I hope [they can win] I’d be very, very glad if England can play in the semi-final or final.”
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