Dutch coach Guus Hiddink said in an interview that he has not ruled out extending his time at Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala, despite saying that he would quit at the end of the season.
"Yes, I've said indeed that I was set to quit my career at the end of this season, it's true," he was quoted as saying by the Sport Express daily. "But if Anzhi stay ambitious in their aspirations for the future, everything is possible."
The 66-year-old said that at the beginning of his work in Makhachkala the project of transforming the team from the capital of Russia's Caucasian republic of Dagestan into a serious football club looked uncertain.
"Now after around a year at the helm, I can say that Anzhi have got the image of a serious club with significant ambitions," he said. "Not only in Russia but in Europe also. People now take us seriously because we've got a serious attitude about what we're doing. And that's what I enjoy most of all in my work with Anzhi"
Hiddink said the club had ambitions to be among Russia's best, alongside the four Moscow clubs and reigning champions Zenit St Petersburg, while the goal for the second half of the season is European success. Anzhi take on English Premier League side Newcastle United in the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday.
Hiddink said that the club had become more professional, while improvements to facilities, including a new stadium in Makhachkala and the creation of a youth academy to nurture fresh talent, had also helped.
"Step by step Anzhi is becoming a real serious football club and it's very interesting to work here. Currently it's too early to say whether I'll quit or stay at the end of the season," he added. "But as long as I have enough energy to continue my work I'll of course prefer to stay."
Anzhi, based in the Dagestan capital, are owned by oil and metal tycoon Suleiman Kerimov, who bought the club in 2011 and whose money helped bring in Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o and Brazil veteran Roberto Carlos. The club is currently second in the Russian Premier League with 41 points from 19 matches, two points behind leaders CSKA Moscow.