July 8 (UPI) -- More than 24,000 Russian football fans gathered in the World Cup fan zone Sunday in Moscow to meet with the players of Russia's national team and thank them for their good performance at the FIFA 2018 World Cup.
The first to speak to the fans was the team's chief coach Stanislav Cherchesov who thanked all those who had supported the team. He said this support had been felt from the very first days of the tournament. "We are glad to see you. We were together. You were the 12th, 13th, 15th and 16th player," he said and promised that the team would demonstrate better results at the next World Cup in Qatar, although it would be difficult without such support.
Players also thanked the fans for their support. Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev said the team had played with all the heart and soul. Alexander Golovin stressed that the emotions he had felt during the championship would stay in his heart for the rest of his life. Denis Cheryshev said the most important thing about the World Cup was that it gave joy to the entire country. Brazilian-born Mario Fernandes thanked the fans in Russian, saying, "Thank you, Russia."
Sergei Ignashevich, who said on Saturday he was finishing his sports career, thanked the fans, saying, "My biggest thanks to you all and each one of you personally." "We are happy to share this festival with you," he said. Alexander Samedov, who said earlier he would no longer play for the national team, stressed he was proud to be member of the team.
"We have proved we are a football nation. Thank you a lot," said Artem Dzyuba.
Team Russia coached by Stanislav Cherchesov lost to Croatia in the quarter-final match at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi on Saturday night. The regular and the 30-minute overtime periods ended in a 2-2 draw. The Croats won in a 4-3 penalty shootout.
In its previous Last 16 match, Russia beat Spain 4-3 on penalties. Team Russia advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in its modern history after hammering Saudi Arabia 5-0 and Egypt 3-1 and losing only to Uruguay 0-3 in the championship's group stage.
Russia is holding its first-ever FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a spectacular opening show at the Luzhniki Stadium on the night of June 14.
Eleven host cities, namely Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara, were selected to be the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup.