The CSKA Moscow goalkeeper fumbled Lee Keun-Ho's firm drive into his own net against South Korea but his coach insists he remains one of the best in the world
Fabio Capello has confirmed that goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev will start for Russia against Belgium on Sunday and insists he never considered dropping the CSKA Moscow man for his howler against South Korea.
Akinfeev was left red-faced in the 68th minute at Cuiaba's Arena Pantanal after he fumbled a firm Lee Keun-Ho drive into his own net to gift South Korea the lead before Aleksandr Kerzhakov salvaged a point.
The error, combined with the 28-year-old's patchy form this season, had led to speculation he would lose his starting spot against Belgium, but Capello insists the thought never crossed his mind.
"I had decided after the mistake that Akinfeev would stay because he’s great goalkeeper," the Italian told reporters. "I never thought about changing him. He’s one of the best in the world."
Russia captain Vasili Berezutski was the first player to approach Akinfeev after the error but revealed he did not say anything special to try and lift his team-mate's spirits.
"Akinfeev is a very experienced goalkeeper in spite of his young age," he added. "He’s only 28 but he’s been playing for a long time.
"I didn’t say anything in particular. He is not the only person to ever make a mistake. I just said ‘Get up, we need to win this back’."
Capello also had words of praise for Marc Wilmots after the Belgian coach described the Russia boss as having a "beautiful record" in management earlier on Saturday.
"I remember him as a player and as a coach I think he’s doing some pretty good things," he added. "I have a theory that we’re all good coaches as long as we have good materials to work with.
"You have to get the team to work at the top. It’s been a long time since Belgium had such great players, and it’s a credit to the coach for combining them to get them to play such great football."
Berezutski. meanwhile, revealed his confidence that Russia will be able to improve on an uninspiring display against South Korea when they take on the Group H favourites.
"Every single condition has been made for us to proceed. We feel responsible in front of the whole country but we are calm and relaxed.
"For the first game there was an adrenaline factor because no one had played at this level before, but now we are calm and ready."