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The Russian national soccer team will meet again with the team from Estonia Saturday in its Euro-2008 qualifying away game in the capital of Estonia
The Russian national soccer team will meet again with the team from Estonia Saturday in its Euro-2008 qualifying away game in the capital of Estonia, Tallinn. The game will be the second qualifying meeting between Russia and Estonia, which hold second and sixth place, respectively, in Group E, as the first encounter last year ended in favor of Russia 2-0. The Russian team, which arrived in Tallinn Thursday night, will be guided by a new captain, forward Andrei Arshavin, as its current captain Yegor Titov was unable to attend the match, citing family reasons. The match has already attracted great interest, and about 10,000 people are expected to watch the game at the A Le Coq Arena in Tallinn Saturday night. The Estonian Embassy in Moscow said earlier this week that over 1,000 Russian fans would be issued visas to attend the match, adding that Russian citizens were obliged to have a ticket for the game to receive a visa. The encounter will be played against the backdrop of recent tensions between the two countries, which have sparred over a number of controversial issues, including an Estonian law that permits the removal of a memorial to Soviet war dead in central Tallinn. Russian politicians have joined the fray, most notably Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of Russia's ultra-nationalist LDPR political party, who has accused Estonian authorities of politicizing the qualifier. The colorful party leader claimed that about 70 Russian fans were denied entry visas for no reason and that Estonian border guards have been confiscating Russian flags being carried by fans to the match. The Estonian Foreign Ministry said in response that people, who were denied visas, did not have tickets for the match, and that having one was a necessary requirement to obtain visa. "Estonia has allocated the Russian Football Union 1,050 tickets for the game and almost all holders of tickets were issued visas," a spokeswoman for the ministry said. "We denied visas only to those who did not have tickets or were in the past detained by Estonian police." The Estonian Border Guard Service did not confirm the reports concerning Russian flags being confiscated at border checkpoints, but promised to inquire into the situation. The Saturday game will be the first official match for Russia, which, besides Estonia, shares its Group E with teams from Croatia, England, Macedonia, Israel and Andorra, since the beginning of the year. In February the team played an away friendly with the Netherlands, when the home team of Russia's Dutch Head Coach Guus Hiddink rocked the Russians 4-1. Hiddink, 60, who signed a two-year contract worth 4 million euros last year with Russia, said earlier the friendly with the Netherlands was very important for his team as it would help evaluate the team's level before important qualifying matches, with one of them starting Saturday. Russia's national team failed to qualify last year for the World Cup in Germany, and Russian fans are hopeful that Hiddink, who previously guided the South Korean and Australian teams to unprecedented successes, will take the team to the Euro-2008 finals. In two other Group E Saturday qualifying encounters - group's leader Croatia will meet with Macedonia (currently 4th in the group); and England (currently 3rd) will take on Israel (5th).
Print The Russian national soccer team will meet again with the team from Estonia Saturday in its Euro-2008 qualifying away game in the capital of Estonia Bookmark The Russian national soccer team will meet again with the team from Estonia Saturday in its Euro-2008 qualifying away game in the capital of Estonia

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