Fabio Capello refused to speak about his departure from England as he prepared for his first competitive match as Russia coach, saying only that his exit was a matter of "respect". The Italian resigned from his position with the
While England turned to Roy Hodgson, Capello made a swift return to the international stage when Russia came calling in July. Russia take on Northern Ireland in Moscow on Friday in their first Group F qualifier for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, and he was in no mood to reflect on his previous engagement.
Asked about the end of his England tenure, Capello said: "I left England, but you know why. Because of respect. Only this. It's finished. No more questions about England."
Capello will have come across several of the Northern Ireland players during his days scouring the Premier League, but he would not be drawn into identifying any specific threats. The likes of Jonny Evans, Chris Brunt, Aaron Hughes and Gareth McAuley are all regulars in the top tier of English football, but Capello is focused on getting the best out of his own side.
"They have players who play in the Premier League, in England and in Scotland," he said. "I know the players, it is my job and I need to know. But I do not speak about individual players. I prefer to speak about the team, I don't single them out.
"In my mind I always try to look forward, to achieve. I hope the next result will be really, really good. Our team is a good team, in the EUROs we played some games really well, and I want to see the same spirit and style. If we play at that level, the result will be ok."
Capello made the bold decision to leave out Andrei Arshavin, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Pavel Pogrebnyak from his 24-man squad and has already lost one of only three strikers - Artem Dzyuba - to injury. Nevertheless, he does not plan to add cover up front before tomorrow night.
"I picked 24 players and I have two forwards," Capello said. "After the game we will decide if someone has an injury and maybe I will select new players."