'England don't deserve to qualify' - Hiddink

November 14, 2007

England do not deserve to qualify for Euro 2008, Russia boss Guus Hiddink has insisted.

Steve McClaren's men will be all but eliminated from reaching next summer's finals if Hiddink masterminds a victory in his side's qualifier in Israel on Saturday.

The Dutch coach - who outwitted McClaren when England lost 2-1 in Russia last month to see qualification taken out of their own hands - believes it is 'impossible' that his players will not take the three points in Tel Aviv.

He said in the Daily Express: 'I am calm and relaxed. We know that if we win then we will qualify for Euro 2008. It is as simple as that. It's in our own hands.

'I am not worried. I am fully focused. For me, this is the equivalent of a World Cup final. We have been through so much in this group as a country that it would be impossible for us to fail in Israel.

'If we analyse this group and the teams, then England do not deserve to qualify.

'Russia have been consistent.

'You judge success as to who qualifies. If we finish above England then no-one can say we don't deserve it. It was not a freak or a one-off.'

Hiddink revealed last month's win over England restored his players' belief, shattered after September's 3-0 defeat at Wembley.

He said: 'They are ready to make every last sacrifice because they believe anything is now possible after beating England.

'They realise now that there is not a big difference between the squads of England and Russia and that money, name and fame do not come into it.'

He revealed his gameplan for Israel, saying: 'We will go there with nothing else on our minds than victory and we will fight until the end. I have told my players to dominate from the first minute. That is the kind of football we need to play.'

England's hopes of Russia coming unstuck in Tel Aviv have suffered another blow after Israel's goalkeeping coach hinted the home side may field an understrength team.

Russian-born Alexander Ubarov also admitted he 'would love Russia to qualify'.

However, Ubarov believes Israel's youngsters could be counted upon to put up a fight.

'We may have some youngsters on the pitch - the kind of players who would give it (their) all since they are eager to prove themselves,' he told Israeli sports website www.One.co.il.

He added: 'In the 18 years I have been involved with the Israel squad, we have never done anything but try our best in every single match.

'I would love Russia to qualify - but only if it means that they deserve to.

'Everything will be decided on the pitch - nowhere else.'

Israel are already without captain and star player Yossi Benayoun.

'I got so many calls from Russia asking about Benayoun,' Ubarov said.

'They are really scared of him so I guess it was good for them to see he will not be playing. It's a real shame he won't be playing.'