Capello defends Russia keeper

  • Last Updated: June 18 2014, 16:00 BST

Fabio Capello has leapt to the defence of Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev after his blunder in the 1-1 draw with South Korea in their World Cup Group H opener.

Fabio Capello: Staying positive after draw
Fabio Capello: Staying positive after draw

Akinfeev failed to catch Lee Keun-ho's hopeful shot as the Asian side claimed a 68th-minute lead, but Russia rescued a draw when substitute Aleksandr Kerzhakov equalised shortly afterwards in Cuiaba.

"Goalkeepers can make mistakes like any other player and it happened to a great champion like Igor Akinfeev," said coach Capello. "Fortunately we were able to make up for his mistake."

But a crestfallen Akinfeev took full responsibility for the mistake and expressed his regret to supporters.

"I want to apologise,” he said. "It was a ridiculous goal.

"Any normal person should apologise and blame themselves for this moment.

"The goalkeeper of the national team should not give away such goals.

"The coach and the players have supported me."

Capello will be hoping his side can produce a response in Sunday’s match against Belgium at the Maracana and preferred to focus on the positives from his team’s display.

"We played a solid match and I'm satisfied with our performance," he said.

"My players reacted well after the opening goal and it was the best possible birthday present (Capello turned 68 on Wednesday) they could have given me.

"Even so, I'm a little disappointed because we could have won the game.

"We were very edgy at the start and we weren't able to play our usual football.

"We still created danger, without ever really managing to be at our best.

"The South Koreans did some good things as a team, especially in terms of possession, but we were able to keep them at a distance."

South Korea coach Hong Myung-bo could not fault his players and was satisfied with a point.

"We didn't get the win but we can be happy with the draw," said Myung-bo, who is preparing his players for Sunday’s match against Algeria.

"It was our first match of the competition and opening matches are always difficult.

"Even so, I'm happy with what I saw.

"We studied Russia and their coach's tactics carefully and we prepared very well for the game.

"My players have given their very best and showed how good they are in both a tactical and physical sense."