Russia urgently need wins in their tough away clashes in the UEFA EURO 2012 qualifiers later this month after stumbling to a lucklustre home defeat against Slovakia, coach Dick Advocaat said.
Russia face Ireland in Dublin on 8 October and Macedonia in Skopje four days later, in a major test for a side still regrouping after the disappointment of its failure to make the FIFA World Cup™ finals.
"Both matches will be very difficult but we are ready for tough battles," Russian press today quoted the Dutch manager as saying. "From now on every match will be a decisive battle for us. We lost to Slovakia at home, now we have no other choice but to win in away matches."
Advocaat also said that he made some changes in his squad's line-up to boost the competition between the players. "Zenit striker Alexander Kerzhakov was playing very well in his side's recent matches," Advocaat said. "He replaced Dmitry Sychev, who currently looks unimpressive."
"Another Lokomotiv player, Dmitry Torblinsky, lacks match practice and I decided to call CSKA's midfielder Pavel Mamayev instead of him. Spartak defender Sergei Parshivlyuk will replace Denis Kolodin of Dynamo, who is injured."
Advocaat added that he was keeping a close eye on the young Russian players. "However, I invited into the squad only those who deserved an invitation," Advocaat added. "Our team's line-up is the list of the country's strongest players. I believe they are capable of solving the most serious tasks."
Up front, the team includes star English Premier League strikers Andrei Arshavin and Roman Pavlyuchenko. The Dutch coach, who took over from fellow countryman Guus Hiddink after the FIFA World Cup, added that the defeat at the hands of Slovakia in the previous qualifier did not change his opinions about his team's playing style.
"In the match against Slovakia we were the better side and it was Russia who deserved the win," he said. "We should continue playing our style in the upcoming matches, controlling play and forcing our opponents to adjust to our style, not vice versa. That's the key to success in the upcoming matches."