Fabio Capello responds to accusations he has been disrespectful to Northern Ireland

Fabio Capello: 'I respect all the teams always'

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Northern Ireland face Russia on Wednesday night in their rearranged World Cup qualifier and Fabio Capello has responded to accusations he has been disrespectful to tonight's opponents.

Russia are second in group F, two points behind leaders Portugal but with two games in hand ahead of the game, which is live on Sky Sports 3 from 7.30.

When Northern Ireland played in Moscow last September, Capello wrote off Michael O'Neill's team and was quoted as saying: "We do only have two strikers and we will maybe call one up for the next game, but it's only Northern Ireland and I expect us to be fit enough against them."

But speaking ahead of the game in Belfast, Capello told Sky Sports News: "Look, I respect all the teams - always.

"And I respect the other manager. If I didn't select new players, it was because I thought that the players I had were good and good enough. If someone was better, I would have selected them before.

"The players that stayed at home weren't as good as the players that I selected."

The former England boss added: "The crucial moment has come. I think that everyone realises the significance of the upcoming match, its result will really have a great impact on the final group standing.

"Northern Ireland tend to play in a very compact way in defence with a great

number of players.

"They are a physically strong, athletic team and can be very dangerous in counter attacks. That is why it is important not to lose concentration."

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