The Russian women’s water polo team are aiming to secure their place at the London Olympics but face stiff opposition at next week’s qualifying event in Italy.
The team had their final training camp in the Moscow region ahead of the tournament in Trieste, which starts on Sunday.
Nine countries will be struggling to secure the top-four places, which guarantee qualification for this summer’s Olympic Games.
Aleksandr Kabanov’s team will take on heavyweights Hungary and Italy as well as Spain, in the group stage.
For the coaches and players it promises to be a tough contest, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko is quietly confident the Russian team will be going to London.
“I think our team has a great chance to qualify for the Olympic Games. I believe in our players, I know what they are capable of,” he said, before adding:
“And certainly we can expect some good results from them in the future.”