Akinfeev fully recovered from flare incident, likely to play vs Zenit this weekend


Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev has thankfully avoided any serious injury when he was hit in the head with a flare on Friday in his country’s Euro 2016 qualification match against Montenegro.

Things were scary at the time as the 28-year-old goalkeeper was placed on a stretcher and rushed to the hospital, but according to the Associated Press he was treated for just burns and a concussion. He was knocked unconscious by the initial blow, but UEFA doctor Slobo Mandic who accompanied Akinfeev to the hospital said “I hope he will be fine” and told reporters he put Akinfeev in a neck brace as a precaution, as is consistent with most neck injuries major or minor.

Following the incident, the match initially resumed after a 35-minute delay, but the match was abandoned with a 0-0 score in the second half when more fan violence broke out. UEFA has not yet ruled what the technical outcome of the game will be, with Group G standings currently appearing as if the match never occurred, but the Russian federation wants the three points. A precedent was set earlier in this qualification round after an altercation between Serbia and Albania, with Serbia awarded a technical win (3-0 in the books) but then docked the three points for fighting, resulting in lost points for both sides.

Akinfeev plays for Russian Premier League side CSKA Moscow, who won the league title last season and currently sit in second place this year, five points back of Zenit St. Petersburg. CSKA coach Viktor Onopko told Russian media that Akinfeev would likely be back in training today and was on track to play Sunday in the league.

The news that Akinfeev could be back this weekend is a massive boost, considering CSKA travels to play Zenit in a match that could make or break their title chances. Falling behind by eight points with 10 games to play would be a tall order to overcome.

Igor himself said he was alright, saying, “I want to say thank you to everyone who’s been worrying about me. I feel fine.” The Montenegran FA president said he was concerned, saying, “We have left the impression of barbarians and this is a complete disaster. As far as I’m concerned the game should not have continued after the first-minute incident. We can only thank God that no one was seriously hurt.”