Russia coach Hiddink aims to be Dutch "traitor"

BASEL (Reuters) - Dutch coach Guus Hiddink vowed on Friday to be a “traitor” to his country by steering Russia to victory over Netherlands in their Euro 2008 quarter-final but admitted he was “scared as hell” of facing such a good team.

Russia's national soccer coach Guus Hiddink looks on during a training session for the Euro 2008 soccer tournament in Basel June 20, 2008. Russia will face the Netherlands in the quarter-finals in Basel on June 21. REUTERS/Michael Kooren

“Yes, I hope to be a big traitor tomorrow,” he told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s match in Basel.

Hiddink, who coached his native Netherlands for four years from 1994 and took them to the 1998 World Cup semi-finals in France, said he would even take his betrayal as far as humming along to the Russian national anthem.

“I don’t know verbally the Russian anthem but I like the melody very much ... so I will do that of course,” he said. “When I’m a traitor, I like to be a very good traitor.”

He praised Netherlands for being tactically and physically one of the best teams in the world and said it would be a challenge to face them but it should be an enjoyable spectacle.

“I’m scared as hell, that’s why we have to attack,” he said. “Both teams have a (similar) style of play ... they like to play always forward ... they like to be dominant. Now we are meeting, enjoy it.”


He said his team’s approach would be no different to their other games so far and they would be aiming to produce the type of football people like to watch.

Russia demonstrated the sort of attack-minded play that the Dutch are known for when they beat Sweden 2-0 in their final Group D match but Hiddink said Russia were still just learning whereas Netherlands had been playing like that for a long time.

“The Dutch play has more foundation through the years. We try now in recent months and recent weeks to install the kind of play and sometimes we forget,” he said.

Russia have been trying to recharge their batteries quickly and have had much less time off than the Dutch to prepare for the match but Hiddink said he had encouraged the players to savour their success so far, albeit without a celebratory drink.

“They didn’t celebrate in Russian style -- they were very sober,” he said.

Editing by Jon Bramley