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Author`s name Alex Naumov

Russia to beat England to qualify for Euro 2008, Guus Hiddink

Russia manager Guus Hiddink insists his side will qualify for Euro 2008 and not England.

The two teams meet at Wembley on Wednesday in a crucial qualifying game, but Hiddink is confident his side will reach the finals.

England trail Russia by one point in Group E, but Hiddink believes his side will be joined by Croatia in progressing to the finals.

"I wouldn't be very good if I didn't think that Russia would be there," Hiddink told The Sun.

"Croatia is in the lead in the group and they don't lose many points. Everyone has to play everyone so it is very complicated.

"Of course I would like to be there with Russia. And I wish England would be there because they are always good at a tournament.

"But realistically you have to consider Croatia are a very experienced side now for many years.

"At the end on Wednesday, we will see where we are. But my team must always go for a win."

The Dutchman's proven track record - he has taken the Netherlands and South Korea to the World Cup semi-finals and Australia to the round of 16 - earned him a place on the Football Association's list of potential replacements for Sven Goran Eriksson.

But he was angered by the FA's perceived lack of respect when they initially sounded him out and withdrew from the process before being interviewed.

England's loss has been Russia's gain. Chelsea's Russian owner Roman Abramovich reportedly bankrolled his country's approach to Hiddink and they are already reaping the rewards.

Hiddink's raw materials with Russia are undeniably inferior to McClaren's with England, but the 60-year-old has drawn on all his experience to mould a relatively unknown group of players into a teak-tough unit that has proved perfectly suited to their qualifying assignment.

Hiddink has built Russia's success on a sturdy defence that has conceded only one goal in eight matches - the best record of any country in the entire European qualifying campaign, the AFP reports.

Source: agencies