Hiddink to stay as Russia coach through 2010

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MOSCOW, Oct 10 (Reuters) Guus Hiddink will extend his contract as Russia manager through 2010, the Dutchman said today, ending media speculation he could leave to coach elsewhere in the near future.

Hiddink, 60, who signed a two-year contract with Russia after leading Australia to the second round of last year's World Cup finals, agreed a new deal after meeting Russian soccer chief Vitaly Mutko on Monday.

''We had discussions with Mr Mutko and we agreed for me to stay on for two more years,'' Hiddink told a news conference.

''It is a wise decision not only to think about the upcoming match or matches but to think ahead to the future of Russian football.'' Russia face England in their decisive Euro 2008 Group E qualifier in Moscow next Wednesday, needing victory to have any real hope of reaching next year's finals.

Russia dropped to third, two points behind England and five adrift of pacesetters Croatia, after losing 3-0 against England at Wembley last month.

''No doubt, this is a key game for us, the one we must win,'' Hiddink said. ''But regardless of next week's outcome we must have a bigger picture in mind concerning Russian football.

''As far as myself, I've said many times I'm very happy here, I enjoy being in Russia, learning a new culture, a new language, so for me it was an easy decision to make,'' he added.

CHELSEA JOB Mutko said: ''We are very satisfied with Mr Hiddink's performance in Russia but, of course, we want more.'' Regarding media speculation linking the Dutchman with English Premier League club Chelsea, Hiddink said: ''Even before the Chelsea coach (Jose Mourinho) left his job I had already discussed my future with Mr Mutko, so it had absolutely no bearing on my decision to stay here.'' However, the hugely successful coach, who led the Netherlands and South Korea to the World Cup semi-finals in 1998 and 2002 respectively, did say he has a good relationship with Chelsea's Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich.

''Every now and then I've had good contacts with some of the Chelsea players as well as the club's management,'' Hiddink said ''And on my recent visit to London (last month) we had a chat with Mr Abramovich over a cup of coffee but not to discuss the Chelsea job but to talk about Russian football.'' It had been reported that Hiddink earns more than two million euros (2.78 million dollars) a year in Russia. His salary package is paid for by Abramovich through his National Academy Fund.

Reuters RAR DB2142

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