What can be more prestigious for a coach than preparing your country for the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 and 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, which are both taking place on home soil? This is not only an honour, but a huge responsibility and a difficult task. It is even more complicated for Stanislav Cherchesov, as the Russian national team is currently in a period of transition.
"We've changed some things and the team is being rebuilt," said the 53-year-old Russian coach in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com. "In our last match, there were four or five players aged 21-23 in the squad. There's a natural process of renewal going on."
The Confederations Cup, which is being held in Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Kazan and Sochi from 17 June to 2 July, is not only the first major international tournament to be held in Russia and a prelude to the World Cup, it is also a chance to see the new-look side in competitive action ahead of Russia 2018, since the Sbornaya are not involved in the qualifiers.
"Of course it's important for the country," continued Cherchesov, who took charge of the national team last August. "The fans are dreaming of seeing all these teams in Russia. It will be an acid test for the side. We need to test ourselves at the level of real champions and compare our degree of readiness to theirs."
The rebuilding of the team under Cherchesov has had mixed success in friendlies so far. There have been two 1-0 wins, against Ghana and Romania, plus defeats to Qatar (2-1) and Costa Rica (4-3).
"When you're putting a team together, it has to go through all the stages," Cherchesov explained. "It never happens that everything goes smoothly. We've lost games in the final moments and we've also had a poor defeat to Qatar. On the other hand, there have been last-minute victories as well. Everything is taking its course."
Nevertheless, the most recent result against Romania gave cause for optimism.
"I really want the Sbornaya to look like a team going into the Confederations Cup," the coach concluded, "one everyone wants to get behind. After the match against Romania, our esteemed maestro Evgeny Lovchev (a former USSR defender from the 1970 World Cup) said that it was a delight to get behind that team. This is a little step closer to what we're trying to achieve."
You can watch the whole interview with the Russia head coach by watching the attached video.