Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov received a presidential endorsement after leading his team to the biggest win in any World Cup opening game.
Hosts Russia defeated Saudi Arabia 5-0 – beating the 4-0 scoreline between Brazil and Mexico in 1950 – and Cherchesov’s press conference was interrupted by a call from president Vladimir Putin.
‘It was the head of state who called me with congratulations,’ Cherchesov said. ‘He asked me to share his thanks with the team and to keep them playing like this.’
But Cherchesov is aware there are tougher tests ahead – Egypt and Mohamed Salah are the next opponents on Tuesday.
‘We made the first step today, then there is a stronger opponent,’ Cherchesov added. ‘We don’t know if Salah is going to play but even without him they are a respectably strong team.’
Russia are likely to be without forward Alan Dzagoev, who pulled a hamstring and was substituted after 26 minutes.