On Wednesday the Russian football team will play the qualifying game of the 2004 Euro Championship against the Georgian one. The game starts at 19:00 /Moscow time/ at the Lokomotiv stadium in Tbilisi /Georgia/.
Following three games the Russian team has 6 points and occupies the 2nd line in the 10th qualifying group after it has defeated Irish and Albanian teams at home and lost to the Albanians on the visit. The Russian team, coached by Valery Gazayev, has one more game to play against the Swiss team, which has 8 points, but already has played four games. If the Russian team wins in Tbilisi, it will top its qualifying group, but if it loses, it will face dim chances to qualify for the final stage of the 2004 Euro Championship, which will be held next summer in Portugal.
The game against the Georgians was originally scheduled for October 12th, 2002, but was not finished due to power failure at the stadium. Before the stadium went dark, the teams played equally well with some territorial advantages of the game hosts, however no acute goal situations were observed that night.
Strange circumstances followed the rescheduled game. The postponed game was immediately rescheduled for the April 30th, however, for a long time it was not clear where the game would be held. For instance, it was proposed to hold the game on a neutral territory. However, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) finally decided, that the game would be held in the capital of Georgia.
Afterwards, the UEFA ordered the Georgian part to hold the game in front of the empty spectators stands, thus having punished the Georgians for the disorders at the qualifying game against the Irish team. However, the decision was later cancelled and the game would be attended by spectators, but only those, who kept the tickets for the October 12th game. Georgian Head Coach Ivo Susak and Russian Head Coach Valery Gazayev opposed the UEFA initial decision and were glad to hear that the game would nevertheless be attended by spectators.
The hosts of the game tightened the security. Approximately 3,000 policemen will be observing the order at the stadium and nearby areas.
The Georgian team in comparison with the Russian one, which had no crucial changes in its composition after a series of the qualifying games, changed its head coach. After the game against the Swiss team former Georgian Head Coach Aleksander Chivadze was replaced by Croatian specialist Ivo Susak.
Russia has deployed two armies and three units of Airborne Forces to its western borders as part of a verification check, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu said