Russia head coach Stanislav Cherchesov claims his squad have earned the adoration of a nation after reaching the 2018 World Cup quarter-finals on home soil.
The lowest-ranked team at the tournament were tipped to crash out at the group stages before a ball was even kicked, but they delivered the first of many surprises by thrashing Saudi Arabia 5-0 on the opening day.
Sbornaya qualified for the round of 16 as runners-up in Group A behind Uruguay, and they stunned the world by eliminating former world champions Spain on penalties.
Belief grew amongst the populace that their national team could achieve even more at the global showpiece, where their run was finally ended by Croatia on Saturday following another shootout.
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Cherchesov feels the Russian people should not merely be content with having exceeded expectations and wants to use their achievements as a springboard.
“We feel like conscripts, when they come to just before they have done their two-year [national] service, like those a bit demoralised who wanted to stay in the army for some more time longer,” the 54-year-old said.
“It would have been better if we could have stayed [in the World Cup] to July 15. We’ve succeeded but I believe we can make further steps forward.
“There was not a single national team playing in this World Cup which had the complete trust of their country. If they trusted us or not, we trusted ourselves.
“We said we can only prove our worth by working hard – I believe not only did people start to trust us, but the entire country of Russia is in love with us, they know what the national team is worth.
“We hope we have turned this situation for the better. Let’s not be happy with what we have achieved and go ahead.”