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Russians expecting warmer welcome at Milk Cup

Russia's senior international team may have been frozen out of taking on Northern Ireland in last month's World Cup qualifier at Windsor Park, but by the time a team from Moscow arrives on the north coast this summer the weather should be much different.

CSKA Moscow have been regulars at the Northern Ireland Milk Cup for a number of years and the Russian giants will again send a team to the Premier tournament this year.

"We don't always have scorching temperatures in summer, but we reckon that snow is unlikely to be a problem for our next Russian football visitors," said Milk Cup chairman Victor Leonard.

"Our friends from Moscow always tell us they receive the warmest of welcomes when they compete at the Milk Cup and that's something we are happy to hear, especially when they return home and spread the word about their experience."

Last year CSKA lost to eventual winners Brentford in the knockout stages as they failed to emulate local rivals Spartak Moscow, who were victorious in the Premier section in 2006.

Half a dozen of the squad that Russia manager Fabio Capello brought to Belfast for the ill-fated fixture were CSKA players and the club remains dedicated to developing young players.

"There is a strong desire from the bigger clubs in Russia to expand the opportunities their younger players can experience and taking part in European youth tournaments is a key part of their development programmes," said Leonard.

This year's Milk Cup will kick-off on Monday July 29, with the welcome parade through Coleraine taking place the night before.

The draw will be made at W5, in the Odyssey Complex, on Tuesday April 30.

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