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City news, 26.09.2007 17:07
Zenit Goes To Top Of The LeagueBy Matt Brown
Zenit St. Petersburg went three points clear at the top of the Premier League on Sunday with a 4-1 win at Rubin Kazan as the team’s rival for the championship Spartak Moscow slipped to second following a 4-3 defeat in a Moscow derby against Lokomotiv.
Zenit has 46 points with six matches remaining in the March-November season ahead of Spartak at 43 points and third-placed FC Moscow at 42 points after its 4-1 rout of Dynamo Moscow.
Pavel Pogrebniyak scored two goals to keep Zenit on course for its first league title in the modern era, with further goals from Igor Denisov and Konsantin Zyryanov.
With the league crown in sight, Zenit has sought to dampen speculation that coach Dick Advocaat would leave the St. Petersburg team at the end of this season to become coach of Australia.
“We are confident he will stay with us if we finish top,” Zenit’s director of football Konstantin Sarsania said, according to Australia’s broadcasters SBS, reported at goal.com. “Dick has told us quite frankly that if we take the title he will stay. He is an honest man and we believe him.”
“We are fully aware of his contractual talks with Australia but we know also that he could easily end up remaining where he is. We feel he has done a great job for us,” Sarsania added. “It could well go down to the last game of the season in November to decide Dick’s future.”
However, The Sydney Morning Herald reported Friday that Advocaat had reached an agreement with the Australian Football Federation that will be announced at the end of the Russian soccer season.
“Advocaat has signed on the dotted line to coach the Socceroos through the 2010 World Cup campaign,” the newspaper wrote, adding: “It’s believed Advocaat, 59, agreed terms in a meeting with Football Federation Australia’s technical director, fellow Dutchman Rob Baan, in Europe two weeks ago. The FFA has stalled on making an announcement, possibly until Advocaat completes his contract with Russian club, Zenit St Petersburg, in mid-November.”
The newspaper said it is understood that Advocaat would continue to live in Europe while coaching the national team through its 12-game qualifying campaign, but has agreed to spend up to eight weeks in Australia each year. Advocaat’s first game in charge would be Australia’s opening qualifier in February 2008.
Zenit’s confidence was given a boost Thursday with a 3:0 victory over Standard de Ličge in the first leg of the first round of the UEFA Cup at a rain-soaked Petrovsky Stadium.
Captain Andrei Arshavin scored twice with Korean Kim Dong Jin completing the scoreline four minutes from time.
Advocaat stressed that it is important to win both home and away ties if the team is to advance in Europe in post-match comments posted at www.zenit-fc.com.
“Yes, we have a good basis with 3-0, but we still have to go [to Belgium for the second leg],” Advocaat said.
News source: times.spb.ru
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