Advocaat warns against complacency
Russia coach Dick Advocaat is confident his players will seal their place at UEFA EURO 2012 when they take on Andorra tomorrow night, but is aware they cannot afford to start the celebrations just yet.
The Russians top qualifying Group B heading into the final round of fixtures, with a two-point advantage over nearest challengers the Republic of Ireland.
Having beaten Slovakia last Friday, they end their campaign at home to an Andorra side which has lost all nine of their qualifiers so far and conceded 19 goals in the process.
That makes Russia overwhelming favourites for a victory which would secure top spot in the group, but Advocaat prefers to err on the side of caution.
"Defeat in Zilina (against Slovakia) would most likely have thrown us into second or even third place in the group," the Dutchman said in Sport Express. "I had to convey this to the players and told them a win was the most important thing.
"We achieved that but we have still not fulfilled our main objective of qualifying. We have made a very important step towards the Euro finals, but we know perfectly well nothing is decided yet. Tuesday should bring our work to an end."
Defender Aleksandr Anyukov is suspended for the match, while Yuri Zhirkov could miss out through injury.
Republic of Ireland, who were 2-0 winners over Andorra last time out, can still catch the group leaders but will likely be more concerned with holding onto second place and a play-off spot when they take on Armenia.
Just one point separates the Irish from their Eastern European opponents ahead of their meeting in Dublin. Armenia have scored 11 goals in their last three qualifiers, but Ireland defender Sean St Ledger is hopeful they can halt that form.
He said on www.fai.ie: "Armenia are a very good side, sharp and quick with the ball, and I know from when we played them away earlier in the group last year how strong they are on the attack.
"Armenia are the team with all the momentum but hopefully we can stop that on Tuesday. We're on a roll ourselves at the moment with clean sheets. We've got eight in a row now, so why can't we go and make it nine, 10 or 11?"
Slovakia saw their hopes of finishing in the top-two ended with defeat to Russia last week. That result left them fourth in the group, six points behind the leaders, but they will aim to end qualifying on a high note when they travel to a Macedonia side who were hammered 4-1 by Armenia in their last match.