Russian federation go Dutch

January 15, 2006

MOSCOW, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Guus Hiddink or fellow Dutchman Dick Advocaat will take over Russia's national team following the World Cup finals, local media reported at the weekend.

Several Russian newspapers identified the two as the prime contenders for the job after the country's soccer chief Vitaly Mutko had made it clear he wants a foreign manager.

'I had talks with three top foreign coaches and two of them have agreed to coach Russia,' Mutko said, adding that he would make up his mind by the end of the month.

'The problem is that most top coaches have contracts at least until the World Cup, so we may have to wait a bit to make an official announcement.'

Mutko said the future Russia coach would be paid between $2 million and $5 million a year.

Russian daily Sovietsky Sport made Hiddink a firm favourite with a 70 percent chance of becoming Russia's next national team manager, giving the remaining 30 percent to Advocaat.

When asked by Reuters on Saturday if the two Dutchmen were the only candidates, Mutko just smiled, saying: 'No comment.'

Both Hiddink, who led the Netherlands (1998) and South Korea (2002) to the World Cup semi-finals, and Advocaat, who guided the Dutch to the semis at Euro 2004, are presently under contracts.

Hiddink, 59, is coaching Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven and will lead Australia at the World Cup while Advocaat will coach South Korea in the finals in Germany.

The Russians have been without a coach since November when Yuri Syomin quit after the team failed to qualify for the World Cup. Russia finished third in European Group Three behind Portugal and Slovakia following a 0-0 draw against the Slovaks in Bratislava in their final qualifier in October.