Dhaka – Russian Premier League surprise table- toppers Rostov hope to consolidate their lead when they visit bottom-placed Anzhi Makhachkala on Friday.Rostov, who went top after a 2-0 win over Spartak Moscow last week, are just one point ahead of CSKA Moscow, with Lokomotiv Moscow third, two points further back ahead of their game against Samara next week.Rostov head coach Kurban Berdyev warned that Anzhi — with only three wins this season and desperately needing points to avoid relegation — should not be taken lightly.
“I expect a tough match on Saturday as Anzhi have absolutely nothing to lose,” Berdyev, who led Rubin Kazan to back-to-back Russian titles in 2008- 09, told Russian media.”I’m confident they want to be at their best in front of their home crowd in a clash against the league’s top team.”The Red Army side, who fell behind Rostov after losing 2-0 to reigning champions Zenit last week, hope to bounce back on Saturday against lowly Mordovia Saransk.But CSKA manager Leonid Slutsky said that his team experienced serious problems in attack after the loan of Ivory Coast striker Seydou Doumbia from Italy’s Serie A side AS Roma expired in January.”We obviously lacked a skilled finisher, a man with a killer instinct in the attack,” Slutsky said. “The match in Saint Petersburg, where we failed to level after Zenit opened the score, clearly showed that.”Slutsky added that his squad would try to avoid losing points to stay in the title race.Zenit face another tough test to their hopes of retaining the league crown when they meet Amkar Perm, a club that held the Saint Petersburg side to a 1- 1 draw in their first meeting of the season.But manager Andre Villas-Boas said Zenit must win at Perm to remain on course for their fifth Russian title.”The match against CSKA was my team’s best performance so far this season,” the former Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager Villas-Boas said.”We have moved up in the table, but we have some more tough games coming up. We must keep on winning to be champions again.”Fixtures (all times GMT) Friday Anzhi Makhachkala v Rostov (1600),Saturday CSKA Moscow v Mordovia Saransk (1030), Amkar Perm v Zenit St Petersburg (1130), Rubin Kazan v Dynamo Moscow (1630), Sunday Ufa v Terek Grozny (1130), FC Krasnodar v Ural Yekaterinburg (1400),Spartak Moscow v Kuban Krasnodar (1630), Monday Samara v Lokomotiv Moscow (1500).(BSS/AFP)