Russian officials say the Confederations Cup soccer tournament that the country is hosting will not be marred by the national team’s elimination from the competition.
Russia lost to Mexico by a score of 2-1 in a June 24 match in Kazan before about 42,000 spectators, knocking it out of a chance to play in the finals scheduled for Moscow on July 2.
"Like anyone, I am a bit frustrated that no result has been achieved,” said Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, who is also head of the Russian Football Union (RFU). “It is football, a great game. It does not always go along as we wish.”
He added, though, that the elimination should not “cast a shadow on the festivities.”
“It is football and someone has to lose.... We are hosting a great football festival and we will carry on with the world-class event."
The Confederations Cup is widely seen as a test of Russia's readiness to host the much larger 2018 World Cup tournament.
The team’s loss comes after an early departure from last year's European Championship, when it was unable to gain a victory and was regarded as one of the worst-performing teams in the tournament.
Nevertheless, Russia's coach Stanislav Cherchesov said the team had made major strides since last year.
"What we started with after the European Championship and what we have today, I think we have managed to accomplish a qualitative leap and we should not stop where we are," Cherchesov said.
Along with Mexico, Portugal -- which defeated New Zealand 4-0 on June 24 -- will advance to the Confederations Cup semifinals.
On June 25, Chile will face Australia in Moscow, while Germany plays against Cameroon in Sochi to determine the other semifinal competitors.
Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, TASS, and dpa