June 17, 2018 / 11:20 AM / a month ago

Russia's Dzagoev eyes knockout stage return

KHIMKI, Russia (Reuters) - Russia midfielder Alan Dzagoev, who injured his hamstring in the 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia in the World Cup’s opening match, is hoping to be fit if his team reach the knockout stage.

Soccer Football - World Cup - Russia Press Conference - Russia Training Camp, Moscow, Russia - June 17, 2018 Russia's Alan Dzagoev during the press conference REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Dzagoev, who left the pitch in the 23rd minute against Saudi Arabia on Thursday, said the news that he might return for the last 16 came as a “ray of light”.

“I hope that I will still manage to play because they (doctors) said that if we make it to the knockout stage, maybe I will be able to play,” said the CSKA Moscow midfielder, who turned 28 on Sunday.

Soccer Football - World Cup - Russia Press Conference - Russia Training Camp, Moscow, Russia - June 17, 2018 Russia's Alan Dzagoev during the press conference REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Dzagoev was in Russia’s World Cup squad in 2014.

“It’s the most important tournament of your life passing you by,” he said. “There is nothing good in this.”

Dzagoev will not travel with the team to St Petersburg, where they face Egypt on Tuesday.

Russia were the lowest ranked team going into the World Cup and have not reached the tournament’s knockout stages in the post-Soviet era.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber,; Editing by Ed Osmond

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