BERN (Reuters) - World Cup hosts Russia, lying a miserable 66th in the FIFA rankings, extended their winless streak to seven games when they were held 1-1 at home by Turkey on Tuesday in their final friendly before the tournament.
The only consolation for Stanislav Cherchesov’s side, whose last win was against South Korea in October, was that they managed to avoid defeat for the first time this year after previous losses to Brazil, France and Austria.
Russia, who open the World Cup against Saudi Arabia on June 14, went ahead in the 36th minute as Alexander Samedov effortlessly chipped Turkish goalkeeper Serkan Kirintili.
But Turkey substitute Yunus Malli equalized in the 60th minute, beating veteran goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev with a 25-metre strike.
Despite energetic midfield performances from 22-year-old playmaker Alexander Golovin and Spartak Moscow’s Roman Zobnin in the first half, the team struggled to link up with striker Fedor Smolov and failed to create chances.
Turkey, who did not qualify for the World Cup finals, nearly won it in the 79th minute when Malli’s shot floated just over the crossbar.
Iran, who face Morocco, Spain and Portugal, became the first of the 31 visiting finalists to arrive in Russia when they landed at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport.
“Being in Russia is a dream come true for Iranian football,” said their Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz who is leading the side for the second World Cup in a row.
“We have achieved this dream through lots of hard work and sacrifices, which only heightens how honored and privileged we feel to be here.”
Poland said that the shoulder injury suffered by Kamil Glik, when he fell awkwardly after attempting an overhead kick in training, was likely to keep the defender out of the World Cup, although a decision was put off until Thursday.
“Even if the treatment is non-surgical, return to full training will take at least about six weeks,” team doctor Jacek Jaroszewski said in a news conference.
Germany forward Leroy Sane promised that his omission from the world champions’ squad would strengthen his resolve as he made his first comments since being left out of the final 23 on Monday.
“I’m disappointed I won’t participate in the World Cup but I have to accept this decision and I’ll give it my all to bounce back stronger,” he said on Twitter.
Coach Joachim Loew said: “Leroy has a huge talent and he’ll be there again, and we’ll have to work more with him again from September onwards.”
Writing by Brian Homewood in Bern; Editing by Toby Davis