Markku Kanerva says Finland need to be ‘fully focussed’ against Russia
Finland boss Markku Kanerva admitted he was unsure how his players will react to Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest in their next game on Wednesday against Russia.
The Finns launched their first major tournament with a 1-0 win against Denmark on Sunday, but their opening Group B fixture was overshadowed by Eriksen’s first-half collapse.
Eriksen is recovering in hospital and Finland have since relocated from Copenhagen to St Petersburg. Kanerva’s squad could book their place in the round of 16 with victory if Denmark fail to beat Belgium.
“It is hard to estimate how the event of Eriksen will affect different people and of course we all have it in our minds,” former Finland defender Kanerva told a press conference.
“We are very glad that Eriksen is doing better and I hope regarding the difficult situation we will be able to concentrate on tomorrow’s match.
“Certainly it will remain in our minds, even after the tournament. Maybe we will be able to appreciate the (Denmark) win even more.
“But it is not an easy task for all of us to concentrate only on football because there were bigger things than football in play.”
Finland sealed their place at a major tournament for the first time in November 2019 when finishing behind Italy in their qualifying group.
Kanerva, a former schoolteacher, said Sunday’s win was the pinnacle of his managerial career so far.
“It was one game and an important one, but we don’t want to dwell on that,” he added. “We want to be fully focused for the match against Russia. We’re still on the road.”
Russia, bidding to bounce back from their 3-0 opening group defeat to Belgium, have been dealt a blow with news Yuri Zhirkov could be ruled out for the rest of the tournament.
The Zenit St Petersburg midfielder was forced off against Belgium due to a calf injury and head coach Stanislav Cherchesov revealed Daler Kuzyaev, Fyodor Kudryashov, Georgi Dzhikiya and Aleksandr Golovin were all doubtful.
Cherchesov told a press conference: “The Finnish team is a strong one and they showed it (against Denmark).
“The game could have worked differently, but we knew from the beginning that they were a strong opponent.
“It was somewhat a surprise result, but the Finland players’ attitude towards the game did not surprise me.”