MILAN (AFP) - Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho on Tuesday questioned CSKA Moscow's right to still be in the Champions League ahead of their quarter-final, first leg clash at the San Siro on Wednesday.
CSKA defenders Aleksei Berezutski and Sergei Ignashevich were both previsionally suspended after they tested positive for a banned substance following their group match away to Manchester United in November.
They were later found to have taken a cold medicine that had not been reported by the club's doctors and they were retroactively given one-game bans (which they had already served).
They were let off harsher punishment as UEFA accepted that club doctors had made a technical mistake.
But Mourinho questioned the legitimacy of the club's continued participation in the competition.
"There's something grey about CSKA's progress in the Champions League. If two players go to an anti-doping control and a substance is found that's not allowed in the Champions League, there's something grey," he said.
The controversial former Chelsea boss was speaking to the press for the first time since the last round of this comeptition.
He has boycotted the Italian media for the last six league matches since he was banned for three games after making a handcuffs gesture to TV cameras against Sampdoria in February.
It was the fourth time he had received a touchline ban since arriving in Italy but Mourinho explained his silence was merely to allow him to do his job.
"My press silence is doing me good because it allows me to sit on the bench and that's important for me," he explained.
"I've always said that a coach does not win a match from the bench but it allows him to stay close to his players and that's where I want to be.
"Not speaking about Italy or the Italian league allows me to sit on the bench, and no I don't want to risk that," he said in answer to a question about whether or not he would end his boycott.
And Mourinho added fuel to the fire of speculation that this will be his last season in Italy by admitting he retains an affinity for English football.
"I miss English football and English football misses me, there's no doubt about that, but right now I'm thinking only about Inter," he added.
"At Inter I'm very busy with the league, the Italian Cup and the Champions League. These occupy all my thoughts, preparing games and analysing them."
Looking ahead to Wednesday's game, Mourinho said he expected the Russians to keep things tight and lamented the fact that the second leg will be played in the Russian capital on an artificial pitch.
"If people think CSKA are not a team at the same level as a Barcelona or a Chelsea, they are nonetheless a very difficult team," he said.
"I expect a closed game, very defensive, which will need the highest level of concentration.
"I would have much prefered to play the first game in Moscow. The synthetic pitch will also be difficult for us in the second leg."
Inter also have some selection difficulties with Thiago Motta and Lucio suspended but even so there will be no return to the team for teenage forward Mario Balotelli, frozen out for the last six games due to discipline issues.
But Cameroon forward Samuel Eto'o insisted he will not be missed.
"Mario is one of us, he's 19 and I like him a lot. But in this situation we have to think about the group.
"I like him a lot but he knows what he has to do to be welcomed back into the group. Tomorrow we won't miss him."
It is believed Balotelli must apologise to Mourinho and the rest of the squad before he will be selected again, something he evidently has not done.
CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky insisted that Inter are the favourites.
"They're one of the best teams in Europe and are the favourites, also for the Italian championship," he said.
"I saw their game against AS Roma (a 2-1 defeat on Saturday) and they seemed to me to be a very strong team.
"We are aware of their quality and the number of attacking players at Mourinho's disposal but we're here to do our best."
|Coach: José Mourinho|
for G. Pandev 90+4'
|Chiellini: Juventus a work in progress|
|Robben agrees Bayern renewal until 2018|
|Hazard: Goals do not matter to me|
|Bennell pleads not guilty to eight child sex offences|
|Muller fed up with debate over Bayern role|
|Wenger glad Sanchez is not ´a Costa problem´|
|Flick resigns as DFB´s sporting director|
|Gomis ´can´t wait´ to welcome Payet to Marseille|
|Chinese FA changes foreign player rules after ´irrational´ spending|
|Like father, like son: Justin Kluivert follows in dad´s footsteps|
|´No reason to lose him´ - Marotta rubbishes talk of Allegri exit|
|Courtois: We don´t need Costa|
|Kane: Tottenham players won´t go to China|
|Noble ´angry and disappointed´ with Payet|
|Klopp furious over Matip uncertainty|
|Wenger surprised by tight Premier League|
|´Money is not everything´ - Conte issues warning amid China speculation|
|Fiorentina defeat a ´bad setback´ - Allegri|
|´This will elevate this group of players´ - Sampaoli revels in Sevilla late show|
|WATCH: Rio Ferdinand screams and dances in crazy Man Utd celebration|
|Real Madrid relaxed, admits Zidane after Sevilla defeat|
|Monaco go top of Ligue 1 with stunning Marseille victory|
|Ronaldo equals LaLiga penalty record as Real Madrid lose|
|Sevilla 2 Real Madrid 1: Stunning late comeback ends unbeaten run at 40|
|Fiorentina 2 Juventus 1: Brilliant Viola breathe life into Serie A title race|
|Tunisia 0 Senegal 2: Mane on target as favourites start strongly|
|Mourinho explains Klopp confrontation|
|Klopp delights in Alexander-Arnold display|
|Algeria must cut out mistakes against Tunisia - Leekens|
|Long balls led to Man Utd equaliser, says Klopp|
|´We attacked, Liverpool defended´ – Mourinho insists a point flattered Klopp´s men|
|DR Congo v Morocco: ´Confidence´ the Atlas Lions´ biggest hindrance ahead of AFCON opener|
|Ibrahimovic: Direct tactics worked for United|
|Guardiola rues gap to Chelsea after Goodison mauling|
|Algeria 2 Zimbabwe 2: Mahrez double prevents shock defeat|
|Manchester United 1 Liverpool 1: In-form Ibrahimovic saves hosts|
|Ivory Coast v Togo: AFCON champions hope to tame Le Roy´s ´troublemakers´|
|Guardiola lays City´s mental frailties bare after Goodison rout|
|Koeman hails ´perfect´ Everton after City mauling|
|Nice stalemate gives Monaco chance to go top|
|Guardiola suffers heaviest league loss in Everton thrashing|
|Neymar-esque Zaha is England´s loss – Bolasie|
|Everton 4 Manchester City 0: Koeman leaves old pal Guardiola´s title bid in tatters|
|Matip withdrawn from Liverpool selection over eligibility questions|
|Podolski staying at Galatasaray, insists sporting director|
|Cavani wants PSG stay|
|Torino move feels normal now – Hart|
|Chinese FA changes rule on CSL foreign players - reports|
|Bayern complete swoop for Hoffenheim duo Sule and Rudy|
|Aubameyang: Dortmund not really like Barca, Madrid or Bayern|
|Pogba can chance a game in one second - Herrera|
|Newcastle Jets 2 Perth Glory 2: Keogh´s eighth of season seals draw|
|Klopp: Liverpool ready for Old Trafford test|
|Herrera taunts Liverpool ahead of Old Trafford showdown|
|I had to be 100 per cent to stay at Boca - Tevez|
|No player is bigger than the club - Carroll takes swipe at want-away Payet|
|Icardi: I can always move to China at end of career|
|Mkhitaryan: Klopp convinced me not to join Liverpool|
|Mourinho: Pogba can score every game|
|Cameroon´s profligacy frustrates Broos|
|Pioli lauds ´exceptional´ Icardi|
|´Now they will be favourites´ - Kimmich questions Leipzig´s ability under pressure|
|Toure set for Champions League recall but Guardiola won´t guarantee long-term City future|
|´It can only be speculation´ - Conte cools Costa to China claims|
|Inter 3 Chievo 1: Perisic, Eder strike late to seal deserved win|
|Verratti and Motta fooled no one, says Costil|
|´Look who won the Ballon d´Or´ – Prickly Simeone insists only results matter|
|Burkina Faso 1 Cameroon 1: Dayo snatches draw for Duarte´s side|
|Angry Sanchez no issue for Wenger|
|94th-minute free-kick snaps TNS´ world-record run|
|Conte hails perfect response to Chelsea´s Spurs defeat|
|Chelsea have more points now than entire 2015-16 season|
|Conte speaks out on reported Costa row|
|Cavani´s reaction to being subbed is normal - Emery|
|Chelsea can cope without Costa - Cahill|
|Aubameyang hopes Gabon learn from late equaliser|
|Ronaldinho ready to return to professional football - agent|
|Unfortunate Gestede sets remarkable Premier League record|
|Mandzukic´s track record speaks for itself - Allegri|
|Bayern beat Mainz to win Telekom Cup|
|Atletico Madrid 1 Real Betis 0: Gaitan seals unconvincing win|
|Leicester City 0 Chelsea 3: Costa-cutting not costly for Alonso-inspired leaders|
|PSG won´t buy for the sake of buying - Kluivert|
|´One of the best performances since I´m here´ - Luis Enrique revels in Barca rout|
|I might have left early myself - Moyes|
|Clement confirms ´imminent´ Swansea deals for Olsson, Carroll|
|Mazzarri pays tribute to ´great person´ Taylor following frustrating stalemate|
|Barca calm on Messi contract situation - Suarez|
|´They don´t normally come off like that!´ - Carroll revels in stunning strike|
|Dyche delighted by Barton´s ´lucky finish´|
|Silva outlines importance of Hernandez after stirring Bournemouth win|
|Messi ticks off Las Palmas to match Raul´s LaLiga record|
|Gabon 1 Guinea-Bissau 1: Late Soares equaliser frustrates Aubameyang|
|Wenger confirms ankle injury for Giroud|
|Rennes 0 Paris Saint-Germain 1: Draxler decisive on Ligue 1 debut|
|Barton determined to repay Dyche´s faith|
|Brady hails Antonio´s ´dedication´ as Payet sits out|
|Top six in different league, says Pulis after Spurs thrashing|
|Barcelona 5 Las Palmas 0: In-form Suarez at the double as rampant champions put pressure on Madrid|
|Sunderland 1 Stoke City 3: Arnautovic sinks woeful Black Cats|
|Corinthians just ´waiting for´ Drogba´s signature|
|Watford 0 Middlesbrough 0: Taylor remembered as Boro frustrate lacklustre Hornets|
|Burnley 1 Southampton 0: Barton scores winner on Premier League return|
|Hull City 3 Bournemouth 1: Hernandez fires Silva to debut Premier League win|
|West Ham 3 Crystal Palace 0: Carroll scissor-kick helps Hammers to victory|
|Swansea City 0 Arsenal 4: Giroud, Sanchez strike as fortune shines on Gunners|
|Costa absent but still no start for Batshuayi|
|Tunisia v Senegal: Talent alone not enough for Cisse´s AFCON favourites|
|Vertonghen injury looks bad, says Pocehttino|
|Srna snubs Barcelona|
|No nerves about Messi contract - Bartomeu|
|No nerves about Messi contract - Bartomeu|
|Kane lauds Spurs´ best display this season|
|Pogba loving Ibrahimovic ´connection´|
|DR Congo on strike ahead of AFCON opener|
|Higuain: Juventus turn you into a war machine|
|Algeria v Zimbabwe: Leekens wary of opening slip-up|
|Sturridge: I´m Liverpool´s best striker|
|Tottenham 4 West Brom 0: Kane the daddy as Spurs trounce sorry Albion|
|Zidane hails Ramos as one of Spain´s most inspiring players after Sevilla row|
|Payet sign guarded after West Ham star demands exit|
|Evra still undecided on future|
|A-League Review: Wanderers keeper Janjetovic pelted with snakes on return to Sydney FC|
|Sevilla boss Sampaoli has ´no interest´ in Ramos row|
|Madrid back Ramos in Sevilla row|
|Recovering Bale boosted by Madrid´s record run|
|Pique sits out Barcelona v Las Palmas|
|Luiz calls for cool heads at Chelsea|
|Hazard: Title race not over|
|Liverpool have nothing to fear - Klopp|
|Mourinho backs Pogba to become United captain|
|Wenger reveals Cazorla may miss another 10 weeks|
|´Come on Chelsea!´ - Costa sends Blues backing amid exit talk|