Russia’s Denis Cheryshev has been nominated for the Puskas award for the most beautiful goal in football for his wonder strike against Croatia, but national team manager Stanislav Cherchesov was not shortlisted for best coach.
The winger was Russia’s top scorer at their home World Cup this summer with four goals in total, having bagged two on the opening day against Saudi Arabia in a 5-0 rout, as well as one more in the group stage against Egypt.
The pick of Cheryshev’s World Cup bunch came in the quarter-final match against Croatia in Sochi. Down on Russia’s Black Sea coast and in front of adoring home fans, Cheryshev unleashed a 25-yard left foot shot into the top corner to open the scoring on 31 minutes, assisted by the ever-present Artem Dzyuba.
Russia nevertheless were knocked out in that game 4-3 on penalties, but not after a heroic showing at Fisht Stadium, when one of the tournament’s most thrilling games ended 2-2 after extra time.
Also nominated were Gareth Bale, Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, Cristiano Ronaldo, Giorgian De Arrascaeta, Australian footballer Riley McGree, Lionel Messi, Benjamin Pavard for his stunner versus Argentina – which was voted the best goal of the World Cup – Ricardo Quaresma and Mohamed Salah.
However, there were no such plaudits for Russian national team manager Stanislav Cherchesov, who steered the perennial underachievers Russia to their best-ever finish at a World Cup finals which included a shock victory over Spain in the last 16 at Luzhniki Stadium.
Cherchesov, despite winning the hearts and minds of a country and galvanizing their football landscape, was not named on the shortlist of best coach award nominees. World Cup-winning coach Didier Deschamps, his Croatian counterpart in the final Zlatko Dalic, and three-time Champions League winner Zinedine Zidane were decided as the final three.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was Lionel Messi’s exclusion from the FIFA best player award, missing out on being nominated for Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Mohamed Salah.
Also snubbed was Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola in the managerial stakes, despite leading the team to the Premier League title and totalling over 100 points along the way.
The three goalkeepers up for the award were chosen as Thibaut Courtois, Hugo Lloris and Kasper Schmeichel.