CUIABA, Brazil (AP) - It seems the World Cup and Fabio Capello just don’t mix.
One of Europe’s greatest club coaches of his or any other generation, Capello moved into managing international teams in 2008 but is finding success - and luck - much harder to come by.
England’s woeful World Cup campaign in South Africa in 2010 is arguably the biggest blot on his coaching resume and there is a worrying sense of deja vu about his start to the tournament with Russia four years on.
Goalkeeping errors have ruined chances of victory with both teams - England’s Robert Green fumbled a shot from United States forward Clint Dempsey into his own net in 2010 and Russia’s Igor Akinfeev’s blunder against South Korea on Tuesday was almost a carbon copy. Both matches finished 1-1.
Like with England in 2010, Russia has Algeria to play in the group stage. And like with England in 2010, there’s a potential second-round match against Germany. It’s uncanny.
England lost to Germany at that stage, and even then Capello had no luck - with the score at 2-1, what should have been a clear goal by England midfielder Frank Lampard was not allowed despite the ball crossing the line after bouncing down off the crossbar. Germany went on to win 4-1.
But Capello and Russia won’t be thinking beyond the group stage just yet.
Indeed, the Italian coach has more pressing concerns, notably what to do with Akinfeev.
The 28-year-old CSKA Moscow goalkeeper, who made his international debut at 18, has been first choice for Capello since he took charge in 2012. But the ‘keeper has made some mistakes in recent months and his spot could soon come under threat.
His mistake against the South Koreans was inexcusable, letting a speculative long-range shot by Lee Keun-ho spill through his fingers and dribble into the net.
“It was a kid’s mistake. I take full responsibility for the goal,” Akinfeev said. “I can’t say that it was because of worry. Maybe I wasn’t sure in myself, I don’t know. The guys supported me - I say thanks to them. But the goalkeeper of the national team shouldn’t make mistakes like this one.”
Capello joined Russia’s players in supporting the goalkeeper, saying: “I am happy with Akinfeev because he is a great goalkeeper. There can be mistakes of course - some can get a penalty wrong … and it’s logical for a goalkeeper to make a mistake as well.
“We were able to make up for that. We can accept a mistake by a great keeper like Akinfeev.”
Yet Capello made similar comments about Green after his error in Rustenburg. And what happened to Green? He was dropped for the next game, for David James.
Capello has two other goalkeepers in his squad - Yuri Lodygin and Sergei Ryzhikov. Lodygin, who plays for Zenit St. Petersburg, is the second choice and has won all three games he has played for the national team, friendlies against Slovakia, Morocco and also South Korea. He has conceded one goal in those games.