Group F preview: Capello's focus on team

Russia coach Fabio Capello will not single out any of the Northern Ireland squad for special attention despite his knowledge of its players.

Capello, 66, will take charge of his first competitive match as Russia boss in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying Group F opener at home to Michael O'Neill's side on Friday afternoon (Saturday morning AEST).

A lot of the Northern Ireland players are known to former England manager Capello but he will not be telling his squad about any of them specifically.

"They have players who play in the Premier League, in England and in Scotland," he said.

"I know the players, it is my job and I need to know. But I do not speak about individual players. I prefer to speak about the team, I don't single them out."

Capello also feels his team will secure the desired result if it plays to its strengths.

"Our team is a good team, in the Euros we played some games really well and I want to see the same spirit and style," he said.

"If we play at that level, the result will be okay."

Experienced goalkeeper Roy Carroll is hoping Northern Ireland can take advantage of the pressure on the home side in Moscow.

The 34-year-old said: "Russia's a big team but they're playing at home, so the pressure's on them to come out and score goals early. If we can hold them, their fans will get on their back, or we'll keep the fans quiet.

"First game, new manager, perhaps they haven't gelled.

"With a new manager they'll think they have to prove themselves. But we're in good spirits, we always think we can cause an upset. If you don't believe in yourself you shouldn't be a professional footballer."

The other four teams in Group F are also in action with EURO 2012 semi-finalist Portugal travelling to Luxembourg and Azerbaijan hosting Israel.

On paper it looks a routine assignment for Portugal but Valencia right-back Joao Pereira insists his team-mates will not underestimate the host.

"We will take on the Luxembourg players the same way we would take on (Spain's) David Villa or Andres Iniesta," he said.

"Luxembourg are one of the weaker teams but there's no easy games.

"If we do not play with determination it will become complicated."

Source PA Sport