Russia wants Capello for 2018 World Cup
Russian football officials said Wednesday they wanted to retain Fabio Capello as coach until the end of the 2018 World Cup, which Russia will host, after the Italian guided the Russian team into its first World Cup finals since 2002.
The 1-1 draw away at Azerbaijan was sufficient to seal top place in their qualifying group and to secure their place in Brazil.
"He works very well with the team and has attracted many young players. He has good contacts with the (domestic) clubs and I think he can be used more," Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told the R-Sport news agency.
"I know that it (a new contract with Capello) has practically been agreed. And in any case I would support it," he added.
Russia will in Brazil take part in a World Cup finals for the first time in 12 years, a huge boost for the country whose failure to reach the finals in 2006 and 2010 was seen as a national humiliation.
Capello took over the Russian national squad in 2012 following the resignation of Dutchman Dick Advocaat who quit after Russia's humiliating first round exit at Euro 2012.
Mutko told the Sport Express daily earlier this week that Russia's Football Union (RFU) should sign a new contract with Capello as soon as possible.
"All the details of the new contract with Capello have already been finalised," Mutko was quoted as saying.
"The RFU chiefs should get a move on and sign it. We should clarify Capello's future before the 2014 World Cup."
Meanwhile, RFU president Nikolai Tolstykh also said that the signing of a new contract with Capello was one of the priorities of the country's football ruling body.
"Capello's new contract is without doubt one of our top priorities," Tolstykh told the R-Sport. "The work is going on at full swing."
The 67-year-old Capello, who refused to talk about his future plans before the end of the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign, meanwhile has indirectly confirmed his intention to stay at the helm of Russia's national side until the end of the 2018 World Cup.
"I already rejected an offer to take over the Italian squad," he was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS. "I will be focused on my work with the Russian team until 2018."
After the match Capello expressed satisfaction with the Russian side, adding however that they all still had plenty of work to do to be competitive in Brazil.
"I'm satisfied with our performance in this qualifying campaign," Capello said after the match at Baku. "We finished in first place having had such a strong opponent as Portugal in our group.
"We played well in all of the matches except the game in Northern Ireland (where they lost 1-0 in August) where we performed unsatisfactorily.
Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Roman Shirokov, who captained Russia in the last two qualifiers, voiced his concern with his side's inability to maintain concentration after his side conceded a late goal against Azerbaijan.
"We conceded a goal in the last minutes again. It's the third time in our four last qualifiers," Shirokov said.
"The worst thing about it is that we were repeatedly warned about it but failed to avoid this again. It's a disgrace, nothing else!"
Shirokov added that Capello was angered with that goal, which came in the last minute of regular time at the hands of opponents who were a man down.
"Capello was absolutely right, it's inadmissible," he said. "We desperately need to solve this problem otherwise it could cost us too much in the future."
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