Advocaat signs four-year Russia deal

MOSCOW - New Russia coach Dick Advocaat has promised to keep faith with the existing members of his squad as he sets his sights on qualifying for Euro 2012.

The 62-year-old Dutchman, who succeeded compatriot Guus Hiddink after signing a four-year contract on Tuesday, inherits a team that missed out on this year's World Cup finals following a two-legged playoff loss to Slovenia.

Hiddink guided Russia to the Euro 2008 semi-finals and although he opted not to renew his contract after the World Cup failure, Advocaat insists the squad possesses enough talent to rule out the need for significant change.

"I don't think we would make a lot of changes in the national team. We have good players there," Advocaat said. "The main thing right now is to identify talented young players who could join the national team in the near future.

"I can only say that after such good work by Hiddink, we would only strive to achieve very lofty goals such as qualifying for the finals of Euro 2012," added Advocaat, who last month resigned as Belgium coach after just six months in the job.

He also confirmed he planned to retain Arsenal forward Andrei Arshavin as skipper.

"Arshavin is a good captain, he has respect among his team-mates," said the Dutchman, who often clashed with Arshavin during his three-year spell as coach of Zenit St Petersburg.

Advocaat was the preferred choice of RFU's new president Sergei Fursenko, who has known him since their days together in St Petersburg.

Fursenko, then Zenit president, hired Advocaat in 2006.

In his first full season the following year, Advocaat steered the club to their first national title in nearly a quarter of a century, becoming the first foreign coach to achieve such an feat in Russia.

In 2008, he led Zenit to victory in the UEFA Cup.

Advocaat has had previous spells as a national coach with his native Netherlands, the UAE and South Korea as well as successful stints at club level with PSV Eindhoven and Glasgow Rangers.

Russia will open their Euro 2012 Group B qualifying campaign away to Andorra on September 3. The other teams in the pool are Slovakia, Ireland, Macedonia and Armenia.

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