For Russia coach Valentin Grishin, the most worrying aspect of his side's  0-0 draw with Brazil  was not the scoreline, but the fact that his team only managed three shots on goal to the Auriverdes' 13.

"The result suits us perfectly," says midfielder Elena Terekhova, "We can't say that we played really well; there were lots of errors. But this was the first game, we had big-name opposition and we were playing in front of home fans."

Russia certainly showed some opening match nerves, particularly during the first 20 minutes, when only Brazil's profligacy and the safe hands of goalkeeper  Elvira Todua  kept the hosts in the game.

"It's good we didn't concede a goal, but a disappointment we couldn't score at the other end, too," added full-back Elena Morozova. "It's true our task was to keep a clean sheet, but we created too few chances going forward".

Tiredness has been touted as a reason for Russia's lacklustre opening performance. Many members of the team - Ksenia Tsybutovich, Maria Filisova, Anna Kozhnikova, Morozova, Terekhova, Nadezhda Kharchenko and Elena Danilova - are still recovering from their efforts at the recent U-19 European Championships, where Russia reached the semi-finals, and could have perhaps done with another week of rest.

Terekhova adds another reason: "Brazil proved to be very physical opponents and to be honest we did not expect so much aggression. Last time we met, they played quite differently." 

Injury worries
It was, in truth, a wholehearted encounter on both sides, and Russia are now counting the cost in terms of injuries. On top of Danilova receiving treatment on the pitch on numerous occasions, Grishin was forced into two substitutions in the first 46 minutes, with Olga Petrova and Nadezhda Kharchenko leaving the field injured.

Both midfielders will now definitely sit out Russia's match against  New Zealand , and could well be sidelined for the remainder of the group phase.

With lynchpin Oxana Titova barely back to full fitness - she came on against Brazil for the last five minutes - Grishin is looking at a sorely depleted teamsheet for his side's second outing against the Kiwis. However, Titova could be in line for recall to the starting line-up, and Terekhova admits her mere presence would represent a major boost. She said: "Oxana was at the heart of the team  when we won the European Championship , she had a hand in everything."

A lack of creativity in midfield was certainly one of the key reasons why Russia failed to hit the net in their opening match. "The support should have been there but we sat too far back in defence, afraid of conceding and therefore afraid to go forward," Terekhova confessed candidly.

Grishin and his side now turn their attentions to New Zealand, who despite conceding three goals against Australia, played to a high enough standard to ensure the hosts know they should on no account be underestimated.

"They have some very young players who don't have experience at this level, but I would not say they are an easy team to play," said Terekhova. "We saw their match with Australia and they are a decent side. We'll give it our best shot. Their number nine [Sarah Gregorius] is pretty quick and Alexandra Riley on the right flank is no slouch either. But I think we'll make things tough for them on Sunday.

"Our main task remains to get through the group, preferably in top spot," the striker added. "Although we wouldn't say no to the top spot in the tournament, come to think of it... "