Dutch date special for Hiddink
Russia's UEFA EURO 2008 quarter-final with Holland will be a very special moment, said the Russians' Dutch coach Guus Hiddink on Wednesday.
The 61-year-old Dutchman, who guided Holland to the 1998 FIFA World Cup™ semi-finals where they lost to Brazil in a penalty shootout, was speaking shortly after Russia beat Sweden 2-0 to clinch their place in the last eight at the expense of their opponents.
"It is a very special date for me," admitted Hiddink, whose side will play the Dutch in Basel, Switzerland, on Saturday.
"I know the players well, I know the coach (Marco van Basten), and a lot of the coaching staff with whom I worked seven years ago.
"We play like them beautiful football, so it should be a spectacular match."
Hiddink, who also guided Korea Republic to the 2002 FIFA World Cup semi-finals when they co-hosted the global showpiece with Japan, said he was extremely proud of the way in which his young team had played in a match as important as that against a Swedish side loaded with experience.
"I am very proud of the team and also the progress that we have made over the match, in several days, and in training," said Hiddink, whose side lost 4-1 in their opening match against Spain but then beat titleholders Greece 1-0 to end the Greeks' reign.
"This evening (Wednesday) we played really well, we tried always to score.
"After half-time, the Swedes pushed up more."
Hiddink, who also guided Australia to the second round of the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals where they lost to a contentious penalty by eventual champions Italy, only had one criticism of the team, a similar one to when they played Greece.
"The only criticism I would make of us is that we didn't score as many in comparison to the amount of chances we created.
"We should have had them beaten a lot earlier, but despite that, the team has made enormous progress. This team loves to play football, you saw it and I am really proud of that."
Hiddink, who has also proved himself at club level and has coached Real Madrid and PSV Eindhoven among other teams, said he had been pleased by the way that playmaker and Russian footballer of the year Andrei Arshavin, who scored their second goal, had performed after coming back from suspension.
"He is a player who can choose his option really quickly, he can create danger, direct play on the right and on the left...he is a really intelligent player.
"He wasn't in great condition because he hasn't played a lot of matches recently.
"But I selected him for the squad because he can change the course of a match. He knows how to get the team playing well, and the other players love to play with him.
"The Swedes love to play against two strikers, so that they can then counterattack through their central midfield.
"But they don't like it when a player is placed in between their defence and their midfield, just as Arshavin is.
"That's what I wanted to do. What is more the other midfielders played an intelligent game so it liberated him."