Judging by the team he named yesterday, CSKA Moscow coach Valery Gazzayev is not taking Maccabi Haifa lightly.
Any kid on the streets of Vladikavkaz, where CSKA will host tonight's UEFA Cup round of 32 first leg tie, knows the names of Gazzayev's starting 11 by heart. Gazzayev wasn't hiding anything - his message to Haifa coach Roni Levy was be prepared and be scared.
Gazzayev said at yesterday's pre-match press conference that he saw the defeatist statements coming out of the Haifa camp as no more than psychological warfare.
"Maccabi didn't show its full ability in the Channel One Cup last month. It is a fast and experienced team that we must respect."
Gazzayev, who was one of the leading opponents of Guus Hiddink's appointment as Russia coach, said that his players had suffered from the national team's trip to the Netherlands last week where it was trounced 4-1.
But despite that he said his team was well prepared for tonight's mission.
While Gazzayev complained that CSKA representatives on the national team were suffering from fatigue and deflated morale from what he called "an unnecessary and damaging trip," he will be without the Brazilian duo of Wagner Love and Daniel Carvalho.
Love will only return to the team ahead of the return leg on February 22, but 23-year-old Brazil international Carvalho, who is recovering from a knee injury, said he still hoped to be able to play.
"I think I am capable of playing, but it will not be easy. Once you lose your playing rhythm it becomes more difficult," Carvalho told Sport Express. "But if the trainer puts his trust in me, I'll have fresh legs and be breathing freely come Wednesday, don't you worry!"
Gazzayev could grant a competitive debut to CSKA's latest Brazilian capture, 18-year old Roman, should he choose not to risk Carvalho.
Serbian midfielder Milos Krasic is expected to play despite suffering from a cold, while club captain Sergei Ignashevich returns to the fray after recovering from a concussion.
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