Moscow: Russia’s Brazilian-born defender Mario Fernandes has said that he has no regrets about switching his national allegiance despite Brazil’s problems at the right-back position. Fernandes, who was granted Russian citizenship by presidential decree in 2016, is expected to start for the hosts in their opening World Cup match against Saudi Arabia here on Thursday, reports Xinhua news agency.
Meanwhile, Brazil’s first-choice right-back for the tournament is Manchester City’s Danilo, capped just 18 times in eight years for the five-time World Cup winners, but given an opportunity after a knee injury to Dani Alves. “I don’t regret anything. Dani Alves is a great player but there are other excellent footballers in the Brazilian national team,” Fernandes told reporters on Monday.
Fernandes is upbeat about Russia’s chances despite the team’s unconvincing recent form. In their last three major tournaments — the 2014 World Cup, the 2016 European Championship and the 2017 Confederations Cup — the Russians have managed just one victory, three draws and five losses. “We have a great team, we’re preparing for the World Cup matches every day,” he said. “We expect to have a successful start at the tournament.”
Speaking through an interpreter, Fernandes said he is working hard to improve his grasp of the Russian language. “I understand a lot already and when I don’t understand, must help me,” he said. Fernandes has capped five times for Russia since debuting for his adopted country in March 2017.