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'
|Chambers: It has been a whirlwind|
|Lukaku drops Chelsea exit hint|
|Mee signs new deal at Burnley|
|Lovren denied United States visa|
|Redknapp admits Fer interest|
|No official Cuadrado bids, insists agent|
|Maguire ready to make step up|
|Rodgers: Liverpool have a strategy in transfer market|
|Ki out to prove himself at Swansea|
|Garcia plays down importance of Real scalp|
|Evian complete Bruno signing|
|Poyet frustrated by lack of new faces|
|Mexes convinced Milan are improving|
|Mazzarri praises Inter attitude|
|Ronaldo could face Manchester United - Ancelotti|
|Tevez thanks fans after father found ´safe and well´|
|Gabi braced to tackle big-spending rivals|
|Shaw: I deserved Van Gaal criticism|
|Morinigo surprised by Gedoz substitution|
|Honduras appoint Medford|
|Van Gaal delighted with United display|
|Roma battle past Real Madrid|
|Simeone talks up Hernandez transfer|
|Defensor Sporting 1 Nacional Asuncion 0 (1-2 agg): Visitors into final despite loss|
|United edge Inter on penalties|
|Gerrard: It´s been ´the worst three months of my life´|
|Sabella set to quit Argentina post|
|Toure plans to see out career with City|
|Tevez´s father released after kidnapping|
|Benitez denies Callejon spat|
|Brownhill stunner downs Burnley|
|Sunderland edge out Recreativo|
|Barton and Hoilett earn QPR draw|
|UEFA Champions League Review: Lafata treble puts Sparta in command, Slovan beat Sheriff|
|Gomis opens Swansea account at Exeter|
|Schneiderlin hints at Southampton discontent|
|Scolari makes Gremio return|
|Bojan strike in vain as Schalke beat Stoke|
|Tevez to miss friendly amid kidnap reports|
|Porto sign Jose Angel from Roma|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Trencin v Hull City|
|Liverpool land Origi|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Torino return to Europe after 20-year absence|
|Rodriguez and Schneiderlin not for sale, say Southampton|
|Rakitic: Not all about front three|
|Barkley pens new Everton deal|
|Guardiola relishing Chivas friendly|
|Drogba targets Premier League glory|
|Hull make Maguire and Robertson double swoop|
|Perisic blow for Wolfsburg|
|Ibrahimovic scores hat-trick as PSG hammer Kitchee|
|Al-Hilal coach sacked over referee row|
|La Liga boss wants cream of the crop|
|Valencia granted work permit, completes West Ham move|
|Atletico complete deal for Griezmann|
|Reus focused on fitness battle despite ´major European interest´|
|Barcelona announce club-record revenue|
|Bony could be sold for right price, says Jenkins|
|Confidence key for Newcastle, says Taylor|
|Saivet out for four weeks with knee injury|
|Genk part company with Ferrera after just one game of season|
|Gold clarifies Twitter gaffe|
|Vidic adapting to different style at Inter|
|Toulouse bring in Matheus|
|Butragueno backs Rodriguez to cope with pressure|
|Benteke aiming to come back stronger|
|Valdez joins Frankfurt|
|Jovetic ready to shine|
|Simeone hails Griezmann qualities|
|Monk unsure over De Guzman future|
|Benitez: Michu will take time to adjust|
|Diaby confident of staying fit|
|Shaw not fit enough, says Van Gaal|
|MLS Preview: RSL look for attacking spark|
|Monk slaps ´astronomical´ price on Bony´s head|
|Australian clubs looking at Ronaldinho|
|Sinclair enjoying ´one of the best pre-seasons´|
|Spiranovic surgery a success|
|Seattle Sounders 0 Los Angeles Galaxy 3: First-half blitz fires Californians to victory|
|Lemina thrilled with Bielsa effect|
|Bayern´s Green chomping at the bit|
|Palace complete US tour with easy win|
|Carragher: Liverpool didn´t want me|
|Simeone: Atleti´s La Liga triumph was no fluke|
|Sturridge: ´I´ll step up´|
|Van Gaal: Formation gives United flexibility|
|Mathieu insists age is no barrier|
|Martinez the deal sealer, says Besic|
|Coaches embrace blockbuster Serie A start|
|Ronaldinho to leave Atletico Mineiro|
|Lorient capture Ayew|
|Celtic loan Berget, sell Watt|
|Pires signs up for Indian Super League|
|Allegri set for early San Siro reunion in maiden Juve campaign|
|Bakayoko makes Monaco move|
|Bakayoko makes Monaco move|
|Lens granted Ligue 1 place|
|UEFA Champions League Preview: Red-hot Salzburg face Qarabag|
|Parma bring in Cassani from Fiorentina|
|De Vrij set for Lazio|
|BREAKING NEWS: Everton complete Besic signing|
|Kongolo pens Feyenoord extension|
|Redknapp confirms Granero exit|
|Advocaat confirmed as Serbia coach|
|CSL Preview: Henan aim to escape drop zone, Liaoning host Guangzhou RandF|
|Arribas makes Sevilla switch|
|Chambers joins Arsenal|
|Ospina buoyed by Arsenal recruitment|
|Liverpool´s loss is our gain, says Redknapp on Remy|
|Ferdinand: I would still be at United with Giggs in charge|
|Pepe targets Super Cup glory|
|Martinez prioritising striker signing|
|Perez not looking to leave Benfica|
|Klopp itching to work with full Dortmund squad|
|Mourinho: It feels like Drogba never left|
|FIFA asks for FIGC review into alleged racist remark|
|Hull to review Maguire deal|
|Wenger prepared to gamble on Chambers|
|Atletico agree Griezmann deal|
|Irvine planning further striker addition|
|Campbell: Black professionals scared to talk about racism|
|Mata backs Herrera to star in Premier League|
|Injured Rafael returning to Manchester|
|Schmidt demands more from Leverkusen|
|Copa Libertadores Preview: Defensor Sporting banking on home record|
|Remy´s Liverpool move off, confirms Rodgers|
|Inzaghi demands nastiness from Milan|
|MLS Review: Timbers triumph in Montreal, Dallas thwart Vancouver|
|Jovetic ready to lead City line - Pellegrini|
|Lewandowski impresses Ribery, Alaba|
|Colombian Primera A Review: Three clubs remain perfect, Atletico Nacional get off the mark|
|Rodgers: ´We can score goals´ without Suarez|
|Chilean Primera Division Review: Canales brace powers Universidad Chile|
|Atletico Madrid need penalties to edge past Earthquakes|
|Liga MX Review: Monterrey, America stay perfect|
|Paraguayan Primera Division Review: Capiata set pace|
|Brazilian Serie A Review: Cruzeiro win again, Kaka scores|
|Sterling goal sees Liverpool past Olympiacos|
|Peruvian Primera Division Review: Los Caimanes notch maiden win, Inti Gas claim top spot|
|CAF Champions League Review: Zamalek held, Vita Club leave it late|
|Jovetic at the double as Manchester City thrash Milan|