Hiddink drops Smertin for Macedonia clash

November 7, 2006

Russia coach Guus Hiddink has dropped long-time national team captain Alexei Smertin for next week's Euro 2008 qualifier away to Macedonia.

The Dutchman has also axed Zenit St Petersburg striker Alexander Kerzhakov from the 23-man squad he named today for the Group E match in Skopje on Nov. 15.

Smertin has struggled to regain his top form this season after joining Dynamo Moscow from English champions Chelsea on a four-year deal in March.

Kerzhakov, who was top scorer in Russia's premier league just two years ago, has spent much of his time on the Zenit bench this season.

Hiddink also dropped experienced Lokomotiv Moscow playmaker Dmitry Loskov and included newcomers CSKA Moscow full back Ivan Taranov, midfielders Dmitry Torbinsky, Alexei Rebko and defender Roman Shishkin of Spartak Moscow.

The Russians are missing injured Zenit defender Alexander Anyukov while CSKA skipper Sergei Ignashevich is doubtful after hurting his ankle in last Sunday's league match against Zenit.

Russia are in fifth place in Group E behind England, Israel, Croatia and Macedonia with five points from three matches.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeyev (CSKA Moscow), Dmitry Borodin (Torpedo Moscow), Vyacheslav Malafeyev (Zenit St Petersburg)

Defenders: Sergei Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow), Alexei Berezutsky (CSKA Moscow), Vasily Berezutsky (CSKA Moscow), Ivan Taranov (CSKA Moscow), Denis Kolodin (Dynamo Moscow), Roman Shishkin (Spartak Moscow)

Midfielders: Yegor Titov (Spartak Moscow), Vladimir Bystrov (Spartak Moscow), Dmitry Torbinsky (Spartak Moscow), Alexei Rebko (Spartak Moscow), Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Yevgeny Aldonin (CSKA Moscow), Yuri Zhirkov (CSKA Moscow), Igor Semshov (Dynamo Moscow), Igor Denisov (Zenit St Petersburg)

Forwards: Andrei Arshavin (Zenit St Petersburg), Roman Pavlyuchenko (Spartak Moscow), Dmitry Sychev (Lokomotiv Moscow), Pavel Pogrebnyak (Tom Tomsk), Ivan Saenko (Nuremberg).