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Lebanon and Russia meet on neutral soil on Saturday in London to play the latest game in the European Group qualifiers for the 2008 World Cup Finals. This Lebanon home game was transferred due to recent hostilities in that country and will be played at 1:00pm at New River Stadium, home of National League Two team London Skolars. The return match will be hosted by Russia in October 2007.
Russia went down to Ireland last weekend in Moscow to the tune of 50-12, and will be looking for a win this game to keep their World Cup qualification hopes alive. After all return matches are played next year, the top team in this three-team group will qualify for the Finals, while the second place team gets another chance to grab the remaining tenth spot through the repecharge round.
This is the first of Lebanon?s qualifier games, with the Cedars due to face Ireland in Dublin next weekend. Most recently the Lebanon team defeated Malta in Sydney for the Phoenecian Cup. The Lebanon squad arrived in North London yesterday, controversially without West Tigers player Robbie Farah, who was refused permission to tour as dates conflicted with the resumption of club training.
Coach Darren Maroon had named his touring squad as follows:
Jad Abinassif (AUB ? half back) Jai Ayoub (Bulldogs - half back) Daniel Chiha (North Sydney ? centre/2nd Row) Khalid Deeb (Newtown Jets ? 2nd row) Youssef El Helou (Club Libanais ? lock) Samer El Masri (Parramatta ? five-eighth/fullback) Adham El-Zbaidieh (South Sydney ? wing) Anthony Farah (Parramatta ? five-eighth) Rudy Hachache (LAU ? front row/2nd row) Gilbert Haydamous (Balamand ? wing) Charles Farah (Bulldogs ? front row) John Koborsi (Bulldogs ? 2nd row/centre) Ali Kourouche (Cronulla ? 2nd row/front row) Mohammed Amin Maassarani (Balamand ? front row) George Ndaira (St George IIIawarra ? hooker) Charlie Nohra (Sydney Bulls ? front row) Chris Salem (Sydney Bulls ? centre/wing) Frank Samia (Western Suburbs ? centre) Allen Soultan (Balamand ? lock) Phillip Takchi (Sydney Bulls ? lock) Robert Farah (West Tigers ? hooker)
Darren Maroon ? Coach Anthony Elias ? Manager Chadi Chalhoub ? Physio Stuart Brown ? Asst. physio Sabah Nicolas ? Trainer Mohammed Chahal ? Trainer
Russia have vowed to learn from it?s experiences last weekend, and improve their team-work and their defense on the left wing.
The Russian players from last weekend?s game under the guidance of coach Evgeniy Klebanov and coaching consultant Tim Sheens was as follows:
Joel Rowlins Sergey Dobrynin Roman Ovchinnikov Robert Iliassov Valentin Baskakov Blake Muller Richard Kirian Jamne Smoll Mathhew Hadojan Robert Karloff Yvgeny Bouzhoukof Din Risko Joel Rullif Deni Koroloev Oleg Smirnov Ben Kaminski Gregory Yinogradov
Sources: http://www.lebrl.com and http://www.skolars.com