Russia in UEFA 2008!

This is a bit of old news, but still very very exciting – Russia is one of the 14 teams to come out of the qualifying round (England did not make it out of Group E – in your face!) – the games will be played in June 2008! Go distant Fatherland!

This is from UEFA website:  

Russia coach Guus Hiddink admitted his surprise at qualifying for UEFA EURO 2008™ after a dramatic conclusion to Group E last night.Russia coach Guus Hiddink celebrates his side's qualification

England needed only to draw with Croatia at Wembley to join the Balkan side in next summer’s tournament, but a 3-2 defeat unexpectedly opened the door for Russia who squeezed through by the narrowest of margins, winning 1-0 in Andorra. It was an outcome even Hiddink had given up on. “I said we had to be realistic and I didn’t believe it would end like that,” Hiddink said.

‘Russian roulette’
“Now we know why Russian roulette is called Russian. We saw that in football, sporting spirit is decisive. Israel battled hard against us without holding anything back, and Croatia did the same at Wembley. I would like to pay a compliment to the players and coaches of that team, because they showed they are true professionals.”

Sychev winner
Dmitri Sychev’s looping header six minutes before half-time was enough to earn the points in Andorra. Midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov revealed, however, that events at the Estadi Comunal were not the only thing on Russian minds. “We weren’t trying to keep the score at 1-0 in the second half,” he said. “We just tried to play it as safe as possible because we knew what was going on in London. The fans kept giving us the score at Wembley by shouting from the stands.”

Olić pledge
Another midfielder, Yuri Zhirkov, said that his former PFC CSKA Moskva team-mate Ivica Olić had kept his pledge to give everything at Wembley. The Hamburger SV striker scored Croatia’s second goal. “We were talking to Ivica, and he promised the Croats would give it a go,” Zhirkov said. “As you can see, he kept his word, even though a couple of days ago it was hard to believe his team would win at Wembley.”

Hiddink praise
Zhirkov also praised Hiddink, who has been dubbed a wizard in the Russian press. After the Dutchman performed miracles at the helm of both Korea Republic and Australia, taking Russia to UEFA EURO 2008™ ranks as another formidable achievement. “What else can you call him, given that he has taken so many teams to [FIFA] World Cups and [UEFA] European Championships? No one believed we would go to Austria and Switzerland after losing in Tel-Aviv, but we are going. He can lead us to the World Cup now and we can do well in the EURO with such a coach. He is both good at what he does and lucky.”

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