Mustaches, silly songs defuse tensions at Russia's World Cup

Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov arrives at the official training session of the Russian team one the eve of the group A match between Russia and Sau

Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov arrives at the official training session of the Russian team one the eve of the group A match between Russia and Sau

A statue of Lenin stands outside the stadium after the official training session of the Russian team one the eve of the group A match between Russia a

A statue of Lenin stands outside the stadium after the official training session of the Russian team one the eve of the group A match between Russia a

A boy jumps into the black sea in front of the Fisht stadium, which will host some 2018 World Cup matches in Sochi, Russia, Monday, June 11, 2018. (AP

A boy jumps into the black sea in front of the Fisht stadium, which will host some 2018 World Cup matches in Sochi, Russia, Monday, June 11, 2018. (AP

The official mascot Zabivaka stands wrapped outside the stadium after the official training session of the Russian team one the eve of the group A mat

The official mascot Zabivaka stands wrapped outside the stadium after the official training session of the Russian team one the eve of the group A mat

Colorfully painted advertising cows stand outside the stadium after the official training session of the Russian team one the eve of the group A match

Colorfully painted advertising cows stand outside the stadium after the official training session of the Russian team one the eve of the group A match

South Korean soccer fans hold soccer ball-shaped balloons upon South Korea's national soccer team's arrival at the team hotel for the 2018 soccer Worl

South Korean soccer fans hold soccer ball-shaped balloons upon South Korea's national soccer team's arrival at the team hotel for the 2018 soccer Worl

Fans take pictures of Brazil's Neymar as he leaves a training session in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, June 12, 2018. Brazil will face Switzerland on June 1

Fans take pictures of Brazil's Neymar as he leaves a training session in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, June 12, 2018. Brazil will face Switzerland on June 1

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's national soccer team is so bad that even the ruthless leader of Chechnya couldn't coach it to victory — at least according to a satirical song buzzing around Russian social networks ahead of the World Cup.

Russians are turning to parody to defuse tensions around the event, which kicks off Thursday in Moscow with much at stake for President Vladimir Putin and his proud nation.

The favored target is mustachioed Russian coach Stanislav Cherchesov. A tongue-in-cheek online campaign appeals to Russians to post images of themselves wearing mustaches as a show of support.

A clip by singer Semyon Slepakov imagines replacing the coach with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, but predicts even he would be overwhelmed by the task.

The parodies conceal a deep-down hope that the Cup is success — and a fear that something could go wrong.