Rostov forced to play youth side after Russian Premier League fixture goes ahead while first team are quarantined


The match will see the visiting side travel with a squad of teenagers and without their regular coaching staff

Rostov are set to play a Russian Premier League fixture on Friday with what effectively amounts to a youth team after six of their players tested positive for coronavirus.

With the news that the infection was so spread throughout their team, the entire first team and the coaching staff had to be quarantined.

However, an appeal to have the match postponed to a later date failed after Sochi turned down their request for a delayed fixture. As such, the team will play with a group of players born between 2001 and 2004.

The oldest member of their squad will be 19-year-old midfielder Nikita Kolotievsky, while the youngest will be Maxim Stavtsev, who only turned 16 in January.

Speaking to the media, Rostov president Artashes Arutyunyants said: “We do not want to comment and evaluate the decision of FC Sochi. Let it be on their conscious. For us, the health of our players and our opponents is more important than three points.”

Rostov currently lie fourth in the 16-team RPL, with their target a place in the Champions League for next season. To attain that, they will need to finish in the top three and currently they are only three points behind Lokomotiv Moscow and Krasnodar, who are in second and third respectively.

Sochi, meanwhile, are engulfed in a relegation battle and though they lie 12th in the standings on 24 points, they are only four points clear of bottom placed Akhmat Grozny.

Given their opponents’ selection concerns, they will hope to take their seventh victory of the season and move away from the drop zone.

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The fixture between the two clubs marks the return to professional football in Russia after an unscheduled three-month break due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Sochi’s fight for survival had already previously been boosted by the news that because of the stoppage, the relegation playoffs that the clubs in 13th and 14th would usually have taken part in have been cancelled, thereby pushing them closer to safety. 

The season, which is 30 matches long and sees each team play each other on a home and away basis, has eight rounds remaining.

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