"Of course, I will cheer [for Russia]. We all hope for a miracle because it is not one of our strengths. But football will obviously develop... I'd like to watch the matches involving our team," Bashmet told journalists.

He added that on Wednesday he had hit the ball for the first time in his life and realized that it was not an easy thing to do.

Russia's first-ever FIFA World Cup will get underway at 6:00 p.m. local time (15:00 GMT) on Thursday with the match between Russia and Saudi Arabia at Moscow's 81,000-seater Luzhniki Stadium. The tournament will last till July 15.