Russian press and fans were left shocked after the national side's defeat to Slovenia in the return play-off match left them out of next year's FIFA World Cup™.
Russia suffered a 1-0 defeat in Maribor on Wednesday for an aggregate 2-2 score but failing to qualify on the away goals rule. "Suicide," headlined sports daily Sport Express, blaming the players for a string of inexplicable mistakes and lack of concentration in both play-off matches.
Another sports daily Soviet Sport also voiced sadness at the team's weak-willed showing in the play-offs, saying that its poor performance at the end of a qualifying campaign has become a dismal tradition.
"We returned to the point where we started," the newspaper said. "Our team looked weak and sickly in Maribor, exactly like it looked at the end of the UEFA Euro 2008 campaign against Israel and Andorra."
The press also speculated that the Russian team's failure may see Guus Hiddink pulling out of a possible contract extension with Russian Football Union (RFU).
Hiddink, who refused to attend the post-match news conference in Maribor, told the Russian press that he still had some time to finalise the decision about a possible extension to his stay in Russia.
"The RFU asked me to extend my contract ahead of October's match with Germany," Hiddink said. "I still have time to weigh all of the pro and cons as my deal expires in the summer. I'm upset with our failure," he added. "Slovenia's goal in Moscow was the key moment."