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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ignatiev Confident Of Russia Victory

ROME -- Russian coach Boris Ignatiev arrived in Rome claiming that his team will take Italy's place at the 1998 World Cup finals.


The two sides meet Saturday for a winner-takes-all qualifier in Naples, after drawing 1-1 in the treacherous conditions of the


Dynamo Moscow stadium a fortnight ago.


"We've got a 50 percent chance of qualifying," said Ignatiev on Monday.


"Italy are a team to fear, but we'll be a match for them and we'll be playing to score goals," he said.


"And if you want my prediction -- it will finish 2-2 and it's Russia who will be going to France '98."


Christian Vieri, who scored in the first leg, is unavailable after aggravating a left thigh injury.


Forward Pierluigi Casiraghi hurt his left knee Sunday in his club's game, but was called up anyway.


Ignatiev was delighted with the news that Vieri will miss Saturday's game through injury.


"Vieri was the best player on the pitch in the first leg, and we're lucky that he won't be there to do it again. That said, if he gets replaced by [Pierluigi] Casiraghi, my defence will have to be very careful.


"I saw him play against Rotor Volgograd in the UEFA Cup: He's a great player, and so is his Lazio teammate [Diego] Fuser."


Ignatiev's men will take the field at the San Paolo stadium knowing that they face elimination on the away goals rule.


"The result of the first leg obliges us to push forward," he said, adding that Russia will be fielding a 4-4-2 formation.


The coach, however, will have to do without two first-team regulars -- former Everton winger Andrei Kanchelskis, who was injured in a collision with Italy goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca in the first leg, and AS Roma defender Omari Tetradze, who is also recovering from injury.


"It's a shame about Kanchelskis and Tetradze, they're two very good players -- both when it comes to defending and when you're going forward," he said.


Ignatiev summed up, "To qualify, my team will have to play their best football, and we'll be training hard all week to do just that.


He added, "We've also got to work on our understanding between each other -- a lot of my team play abroad and they only meet up for international matches."


The other thing we'll have to work on is our concentration -- the stadium is going to be packed and I don't anyone in my team getting stage fright."