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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A New Start for Russian Team

It was his first game on the job, and even though the end result was not exactly what he wanted, Oleg Romantsev was happy with what he saw.


Despite his team's 1-0 loss to Germany in an international friendly on Wednesday, Russia's new trainer viewed the game as a chance to get acquainted with his players -- most of whom play on foreign club teams -- and to tune up an offense and defense that has not played together for more than a year.


Romantsev was pleased with his club's performance, he said after the exhibition match at Luzhniki Olympic Stadium on Wednesday night. It marked the first time that the national side had played together since a rift between players and former trainer Pavel Sadyrin that resulted in several key team members boycotting the World Cup in the U.S. last summer.


"It is like a clean sheet of paper and we are writing a new chapter in Russian soccer," said Igor Shalimov, a former team captain. "We want to put whatever happened in the past behind us."


A new chapter it may have been, but Russia was shut down by the strong German team. The Russians kept the pressure on throughout the game, but missed a few good chances in the first half. The defense was also shaky at times, allowing Stefan Kunz and J--rgen Klinsmann some open space up front.


Kunz's goal at the 11-minute mark, capitalizing on a defensive error by the Russians, proved to be the game-winner.


The forward made a quick run after receiving a clean pass from fellow striker Klinsmann and beat the last Russian defender Yury Nikiforov and goalie Stanislav Cherchesov, to send more than 40,000 Russian fans home disappointed.


Igor Kolyvanov, Andrei Kanchelskis, Sergei Kiriyakov and Vasily Kulkov, all of whom are playing for leading European clubs, joined Shalimov for this match.


"The fact that all of us eagerly accepted invitations to play for this new Russian team, under a new manager, shows that we are proud to represent Russian soccer in the international arena," Shalimov said.


"We want to help regain the prestige of Russian soccer that was at the very low point after the dismal showing" in the World Cup, when Russia did not advance to the second round.


All of the above mentioned players were included in the starting lineup that featured six additions to the World Cup roster.


The only notable omission in the lineup was Oleg Salenko, the leading scorer in the World Cup, who had to sit out this match because of injury.


Salenko was the only bright spot in a distinctly gloomy Cup showing for Russia, which failed to advance to the second round after losses to Brazil and Sweden.


He scored six goals in all, five in an incredible 6-1 rout of Cameroon.


In a pregame briefing Tuesday, Romantsev said the Russian team had lacked "fighting spirit" in the World Cup, and that he hoped the match against Germany would be a chance to sharpen the team's edge.


It was an important game for the Germans as well, after their surprising 2-1 loss to Bulgaria in the quarterfinals of the Cup.


Berti Vogts, the German trainer, also made some personnel changes for his team's first match after the World Cup. Vogts inserted Kunz for veteran Rudi Voller, who retired from the national side.


Kunz, who was the best goalscorer in the Bundesliga last season, apparently had not lost his scoring touch for the national team as well.


The next game for the Russian team is Oct. 12 against San Marino, in the European Championship qualifying rounds.