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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Hosts Russia pose a stern test for hardy Uruguay

NIZHNY NOVGOROD Russia (Xinhua) -- Hosts Russia pose a stern test for Uruguay as the teams prepare to battle for top spot in Group A of the World Cup, according to Celeste forward Cristhian Stuani.

Both sides have won their opening two matches, but Russia lead the group on goal difference, having scored seven goals to Uruguay’s two.

Regardless of the result in Samara on Monday, the teams are guaranteed of a berth in the round of 16.

"What we have seen from Russia is that they are a great team," Stuani told a news conference on Saturday.

"They have shown that they play very calmly, they have players who are physically strong and they can pass the ball.

"They are also dangerous on the counterattack."

Before the tournament, many pundits predicted that Uruguay’s strength lied in an attack led by Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.

However it is the defence that has been most impressive so far and the Celeste are one of only four teams that are yet to concede a goal.

They beat Egypt 1-0 in their first match on June 15 and defeated Saudi Arabia by the same scoreline on Wednesday.

"The important thing in this competition is to try to get a positive result, which can be very difficult," the Girona player said.

"We managed to win both games by the smallest margin but on both occasions we competed very well."
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UPDATES:

Russia ready for Uruguay challenge: Miranchuk

MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) -- Hosts Russia will not be intimidated by two-time world champions Uruguay as they seek to continue their unbeaten run in the World Cup, midfielder Aleksei Miranchuk said on Saturday.

Russia sit atop Group A with two wins and seven goals from their first two matches while Uruguay are second, having also won their opening two games.

Both teams are already guaranteed of a berth in the round of 16, regardless of the the result in Samara.

"Uruguay are a dangerous team, they have good goalscorers," Miranchuk told reporters.

"But we won’t be pushed off our game."

Miranchuk has not been used so far this tournament but the Lokomotiv Moscow player is ready to be called off the bench should coach Stanislav Cherchesov need him.

"I don’t know what’s more difficult, playing in the match or being on the bench," the 22-year-old said.

"On the bench you worry, but there is no time for that on the pitch.

"I’m ready to play.

"In a team there are 23 players, not 11.

"I’m waiting for my chance.
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Russian team doctor Eduard Buzuglov rejects doping claims

MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) -- The team doctor of the Russian football team on Saturday refuted allegation that the host nation has been doping either before or during the World Cup finals.

Eduard Buzuglov spoke to the media to explain that the members of the Russian team competing in the finals have been tested more than England.

The hosts were expected to struggle in the tournament but have so far turning in two excellent displays to beat Saudi Arabia 5-0 and Egypt 3-1.

Statistics show that no other team in the competition has run as much as the Russians in those two wins, causing eyebrows to be raised, but Bezuglov insisted the players are clean.

He said Russian players had given over 300 samples to FIFA, UEFA and Rusada (the Russian anti-doping agency).

"All of them have turned out to be clean" said the Doctor, who was annoyed at the British press for questioning the ethics of the team.

"I am ready to bet that the England team have not given as many samples, so people should focus on themselves and have nothing to fear," continued Dr Buzuglov, who in March had insisted:

"I do not know of any other sport that does not have a problem with banned drugs.

"But Russian football does not have this problem."

           

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