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Hiddink tells young Russia team not to fear Spain

The Russian coach urges his inexperienced team not to be afraid of a Spain line-up bursting with household names when they meet in their opening Group D game today.
AFP | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON JUN 10, 2008 11:41 AM IST

Russia coach Guus Hiddink urged his inexperienced team on Monday not to be afraid of a Spain line-up bursting with household names when they meet in their opening Euro 2008 Group D match on Tuesday.

Russia arrived with the squad with the lowest average age (26.26), according to tournament organisers UEFA, and just one of their 23-man squad -- forward Ivan Saenko of Nuremberg in Germany -- plays his club football outside his homeland.

Hiddink said his players might not be familiar faces yet but hoped they soon would be. "(Spain's) players are known, our players are not known. I hope that will change in 24 hours," he told a news conference at the Tivoli Neu stadium.

Croatia will improve: Bilic

VIENNA: Croatia coach Slaven Bilic claimed his team would improve after narrowly hanging on to a 1-0 win over co-hosts Austria in their opening Group B clash in Vienna. Croatia are second in the group after Germany beat Poland 2-0 in the other match and Bilic knows his team must play a lot better than they did against the Austrians to have a chance of winning their next match against the Germans.

Bilic was happy that his team won for the first time in the competition since 1996 in England, the last time Germany were crowned champions of Europe.

“First of all I’m glad. I’m happy that after so many years we’ve finally won a game at such a great tournament,” said Bilic, who was a player the last time Croatia won a game at the European Championships.

“I’ve got to congratulate the players for playing so well, this will certainly boost our self confidence for the next two games.”

Gokhan out of next match

BERNE: Turkey central defender Gokhan Zan has damaged ligaments in his left knee and will miss Wednesday’s Group A match against Switzerland, a team spokesman said on Sunday.

Gokhan sustained the injury in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Portugal and the extent of the damage was revealed in a scan on Sunday, the spokesman said.

It’s all over for Frei

* Lausanne: Netherlands must be the top-ranked team at the Euro 2008 finals in Austria and Switzerland when it comes to their choice of accommodation. With their three Group C matches all in Berne, the Dutch have chosen Lausanne, which is 100 km away, as their base and are staying at one of Switzerland's most luxurious hotels. Agencies

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