Cup hosts Russia, Japan fall in friendlies

Russia made a disappointing start to their final World Cup preparations with a 1-0 loss to Austria

World Cup hosts Russia have made a disappointing start to their final preparations for their home tournament with 1-0 defeat to Austria.

A 28th minute goal from Alessandro Schoepf was enough to give Austria victory in Innsbruck on Wednesday.

They did not qualify for Russia but have won four consecutive games under new coach Franco Foda and will be in high spirits for hosting Germany on Saturday.

Russia in contrast will be disappointed at failing to find their form after losing to both Brazil and France in March.

They have one more match to turn the tide, next week at home to Turkey, before opening the World Cup against Saudi Arabia on June 14 in Moscow.

Coach Stanislav Cherchesov's are a lowly 66th in the FIFA ranking but with Egypt and Uruguay the other teams joining them in Group A, failure to reach the knock-out stages in front of their own fans would be a disaster.

Earlier Japan were defeated 2-0 by Ghana in their last match at home before the World Cup in what was coach Akira Nishino's debut.

Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey gave the visitors the lead in Yokohama after only nine minutes and a penalty from Emmanuel Boateng, early in the second half, sealed matters.

Nishino replaced former coach Vahid Halilhodzic, who had guided the team to qualification only to be sacked in April following disappointing friendly results earlier this year.

Japan face Switzerland away on June 8 and Paraguay four days later in Innsbruck, Austria, to conclude their build-up before meeting Colombia, Senegal and Poland in Group H.