Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov spoke with FIFA.com at the Team Workshop in Sochi last week. He updated the watching world on the country's preparations and his team's form leading up to the World Cup. He also gave some useful tips to those planning on coming to Russia in June and July.
FIFA.com: With 100 days to go until the start of the World Cup, how ready is Russia to host the competition?
Cherchesov: I can assure you that in June the whole world will see that Russia has what it takes to organise such large-scale events. We want to, and we can, host tournaments of this nature. We've already played at some of the World Cup stadiums, at the Confederations Cup for example. The other venues are in the finishing stages of construction. It's great that all the infrastructure which has been built - stadiums, airports, hotels and so on - will remain in use after the World Cup. However, my area of responsibility is the team, so I am concentrating on getting the Sbornaya ready for the tournament.
Fans from many countries are already planning their trips to Russia. What advice can you give them: which three attractions simply must they see?
I'd like to invite everyone to my native Ossetia, so the fans could see the most beautiful mountains in the world, but it's quite far away from any Host City. Therefore, I'd advise people to visit the most beautiful places in Moscow: Russia's spiritual heart in the Kremlin, the amazing Red Square, and the famous Bolshoi Theatre. The most important thing is to come to Russia with an open heart and try to understand our country and the places you're visiting. As we say in Russia, better to see something once than to hear about it a hundred times.
Describe Russia in three words.
Huge, hospitable, and joyful!
How ready are the Russian national team 100 days from the Opening Match?
I spoke to the players when they were preparing for the domestic season to start up again in Russia and I gave them some words of advice. Firstly, that they have to be fit, and secondly, they need to be ready. If you're not physically prepared, you have no chance of making progress. And the players are doing their jobs, getting into shape at their clubs. We're keeping an eye on a few potential candidates, at the moment. Unfortunately, two of our starting central defenders, Viktor Vasin and Georgi Dzhikiya, have been ruled out for long spells through injury. At the same time, we're gathering information on our opponents.
What can you tell us about Russia's opposition in the group stage - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Uruguay?
We're learning about Saudi Arabia gradually. This team has a new coach, which means overanalysing their matches from last year would be pointless because there may have been a lot of changes. We're observing how they're playing in warm-up matches.
I recently travelled to England to watch some of Egypt's leading players in action: Mohamed Salah at Liverpool, Mohamed Elneny at Arsenal, and the pair at West Bromwich [Albion]. I'm sure that they too will have changed a lot compared to last year.
Uruguay are one of the best teams in South America. They're always at the World Cup and their top stars play for clubs like Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.
Let's fast-forward 100 days: it's 17:59 in Moscow, just seconds before the Opening Match against Saudi Arabia, what is going through your head in this moment?
My experience as a player and a coach suggests that in these moments, you have to think about one thing only: concentrating on the game. Thinking about anything else really doesn't help. But it's an honour for me to be the head coach of the national team at the World Cup on home soil. I treat it as a special privilege and I'll do everything possible to ensure the team are thinking about what they need to do, but I can't tell you what we'll be feeling at that moment. Until you've experienced the atmosphere yourself, you don't know.