Andy Shenk previews Russia’s trip to Northern Ireland, and the rise of a prodigious young talent in their domestic game…
Aleksandr Kokorin celebrated his 22nd birthday on March 19, just four days before suiting up for a World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland in Belfast. The Russian national team is ensconced at a golf resort outside of North London, a few kilometers from Arsenal’s training grounds, where they’ve been training since Monday.
The young Dinamo Moscow forward, who captained his club for the first time on Saturday evening during a 1-1 draw with Kuban, admitted this day was a bit different. “[My birthday’s] never come during camp…. This time I had a very strange birthday – with the national team, and in London, no less,” he told reporters after practice.
There certainly was no time to skip downtown, either, for post-workout drinks. Fabio Capello, who signed on with the Russian Football Union last July, has tightened the screws on a squad that earned its country’s ire at Euro 2012, both for their disappointing group stage exit and media reports of pampered footballers run wild in Warsaw. Continue reading