Capello wary of Northern Ireland threat

Russia's new manager Fabio Capello said on Thursday he was expecting a tough match against Northern Ireland on Friday in his side's opening World Cup qualifier.

"I know Northern Ireland's players very well," Capello told a news conference.

"Most of them are playing in strong leagues -- English and Scottish Premierships. In other words, on Friday we will face dangerous opponents."

The 66-year-old Italian said that he had up-to-date information about the Northern Ireland's squad as he had watched three of their recent matches.

"I saw three matches of the Northern Ireland team," he said. "Their last friendly match with Finland was the most important for our preparations for the qualifying campaign-opening clash in Moscow."

"Their coach made some changes in his team's playing style in this match. But we are ready for any variants of their playing, both old and new."

Capello also said that he felt himself happy working with Russia's national side.

"I'm happy to be here," he said. "I'm really pleased that the Russian football federation chosn me as their national head coach. For me it's an honour to work with this team."

"I've seen plenty of matches of the Russian club sides in recent time. And I hope we will play quality football in the match with Northern Ireland," he said.

"All of my players are healthy and ready for the match except forward Artem Dzyuba, who suffered a minor injury and went back to his club for treatment."

Capello added that the Russian team had everything to succeed in the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.

"I consider the Russian team to be really strong," he said. "At times during Euro-2012 they showed classy football. We need to keep alive the team spirit and the players' skills which I saw at the European championship."


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