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Russian football can become a powerhouse: Hiddink

The 61-year-old Dutchman was speaking after his team had kept themselves alive at Euro 2008 by beating Greece 1-0 in their Group D match
By HT Correspondent | AFP, Salzburg, Austria
UPDATED ON JUN 15, 2008 06:36 PM IST

Russia coach Guus Hiddink believes that Russia can become a real footballing power if the right infrastructure is put into place.

The 61-year-old Dutchman was speaking after his team had kept themselves alive at Euro 2008 by beating Greece 1-0 in their Group D match, a result which also resulted in the Greeks losing their European crown.

The Russians need to beat Sweden - who are also on three points - on Wednesday and Hiddink said that while Zenit St Petersburg's dominant win in the UEFA Cup and his team's silky football were promising it did not signify that the Russians were becoming a huge force in the sport.

"Not yet," commented Hiddink, who worked wonders with the South Koreans taking them to the 2002 World Cup semi-finals as he had done with the Dutch in 1998.

"The players are experiencing something special (at Euro 2008).

"Russian football is developing and it is important for the process to continue that the national side shines on the international stage.

"Because that has farreaching consequences: developing the infrastructure."

Hiddink, who masterminded another qualifying success for a major finals by edging out England from making Euro 2008, said that nevertheless even without the Russians making an impact internationally there must be progress made internally.

"Even if the national side doesn't succeed, there have to be training centres, but also a complete rethinking of training methods, especially at youth level.

"With a little organisation, bringing together a talented group, a country as big as this can become a power. But it is simply not the case at the moment to be honest. One has to take it step by step."

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