Russia coach Igor Ovchinnikov has begun his preparations for the important 2015 international season.
Currently lying second on points difference in European Championship B behind Serbia, and with a difficult away trip to Belgrade scheduled in the calendar, Ovchinnikov has selected a train-on squad having overseen a trial match in Moscow.
The head coach’s selection won the encounter 46-12 against a team coached by national team stalwarts Viktor Nechayev and Vadim Fedchuk.
“The game showed that, for a short period, our players are physically prepared and technically not bad but some tactical problems were highlighted,” said Ovchinnikov, who returned to take control of the national side for a second time at the beginning of last year.
“The main reason is that there has been little match practise because the Russian championship only kicked off two weeks ago.
“At the beginning of the game, both teams were fairly tough,” continued the Lokomotiv Moscow coach. “There were some strong attacking runs, hard defence and a desire to win which suggests that competition for places in the national team is high, which is really pleasing.
“Of course, the players have not yet hit their peak so we have a way to go. Defensively both teams looked quite confident but sometimes in attack the play was a bit chaotic and some players tried to do too much on their own. That led to a slow pace, some set-piece confusion and dropped ball.
“The most important thing is that we’ve seen the problems which we must solve in the near future as well as the ways we can improve the team’s quality. Overall the match was played at a high level – but we have a lot of work to do. It’s encouraging that we have time for a more thorough preparation this season and we have two months before our campaign begins.”
The ARLK is considering keeping the Russia ‘B’ team together to improve player development under the control of Ovchinnikov and his staff.
At the end of the exercise Ovchinnikov named his current ‘A’ squad as follows – Rustam Bulanov, Vladimir Vlasyuk, Bohadur Mamajanov, Sergey Konstantinov, Anatoly Grigorev, Petr Botnaraşh, Artem Grigoryan, Roman Ovchinnikov, Andrew Zdobnikov, Dmitry Bratko, Sergey Dobrynin, Valentin Baskakov, Denis Korolev, Mikhail Nisiforov, Anton Zabelin, Vladimir Odnosumov, Sergei Sidorov, Denis Nikolski, Dmitry Ivanochkine.