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Hiddink lets his Russia team take it easy before Euro 2008

Hiddink lets his Russia team take it easy before Euro 2008

One of the advantages of playing for a coach as experienced as Guus Hiddink is that he has learned when rest and relaxation can be as important as tough training.
The Dutch coach is known for driving his players to the peak of fitness ahead of tournaments, often with two demanding training sessions every day. But the veteran also knows they need time off to recover and unwind.
And, as they prepare for their opening European Championship match against Spain on Tuesday, the Russians have done more relaxing than running recently.
They arrived in Austria late Wednesday after beating Lithuania 4-1 in Germany in the last of three pre-tournament friendly matches. Training scheduled for the following morning and afternoon was scrapped by Hiddink and, in the evening, the team took a leisurely jog before splitting into small groups to work on their one-touch passing skills.
They rounded off an hour-long session by taking shots at the cross bar.
On Friday, Hiddink again canceled the morning training session and kept his players in their luxury chalet-style hotel, away from the media.
In the evening, the team went through running and coordination exercises without a ball before Hiddink closed the session to the press and public for a practice game.
But it's not like the Russians have been lazing around for weeks. The team was at a training camp in Germany from late May and beat Kazakhstan, Serbia and Lithuania in its warmup games. Their opening match is a tough one against the Group D favorite in Innsbruck.
"I was a bit disappointed about the cancellation of the morning training sessions, they make the time pass quicker," Dynamo Moscow midfielder Igor Semshov said. "But if the coach thinks training once is enough, then that's fine by me."
Hiddink's training regimes have paid off for all the international teams he has led. His South Korea players were regarded as the fittest at the 2002 World Cup and their endurance in strength-sapping heat helped propel them to an unlikely semifinal.
Hiddink took the same philosophy to Australia _ a team that had been known to crumble in the second half of its matches, most notably in a playoff with Iran for a berth at the 1998 World Cup. Australia squandered a 2-0 lead by conceding two late goals, allowing Iran to qualify.
But Hiddink led the Socceroos to qualification for the 2006 World Cup _ the first time in 32 years the Australians had made the finals _ and then advanced out of the group stage before a narrow loss to eventual champion Italy.
In the Austrian Alps his latest international charges are not exactly working their socks off on the training complex especially built for them in this skiing village.
Team spokesman Ilya Kazakov was at a loss to explain the scrapped training sessions.
"It's Hiddink's decision," he said, shrugging his shoulders.
Wherever Hiddink has coached, one rule has applied above all others: What Guus says, goes.


Updated : 2021-04-11 21:49 GMT+08:00