Playing a major football match in extreme cold may have been a bad idea after all. A visiting Moscow team lost two players, who broke their legs on the frozen pitch but still managed to clench victory against their hosts in Khabarovsk in the Russian Far East.
The game on Saturday, which was 17th in the Russian Premier League, was given the green light despite temperatures in Khabarovsk diving down to -20C (-4F). Moscow’s CSKA and SKA Khabarovsk had to battle against harsh weather conditions as well as each other. Players from both teams said the game turned out to be a real ordeal for them.
SKA Khabarovsk’s Alejandro Barbaro, who was born in Argentina, told Nash Futbol TV channel that he could not feel his legs or arms in the final 10 minutes of the game. He added that he plans to continue his career in Russia despite this experience of extreme Russian weather.
CSKA player Pontus Wernbloom said he will be telling stories to his grandchildren about the match, the club’s press service reported. The Swedish man added that he was touched by the presence of numerous spectators in the stand, who had braved the freezing temperatures to watch the game.
Russian Aleksei Berezutski fractured his right fibula, while Bulgarian Georgi Milanov fractured the same bone in his left leg, CSKA reported after the match. The Moscow club said Berezutski’s trauma will require surgery, while the treatment strategy for Milanov will depend on a closer examination.
Despite the events during the match, SKA Khabarovsk director general Oleg Flegontov objected to a suggestion that the next Russian Premier League fixture against FC Lokomotiv should be played at a different location. He insisted that the club’s home arena is ready for the game. “Why should we play at a neutral stadium? Did we fail to prepare ours? We have a backup date, February 25. Let’s play on that day.” The next match in Khabarovsk is scheduled for this Saturday.