Guus Hiddink, christened the “wizard” by grateful Russian media, said Tuesday there was no magic to his giant-killing exploits as a coach in big international tournaments.
“There’s no recipe, there’s no secret, there’s no magic,” he told journalists during a visit to South Korea, the team he took to the 2002 World Cup semi-finals against all the odds.
“What we emphasised was to expose (ourselves), as a team, as players, to play fully committed and fully hard,” the 62-year-old said of his latest team Russia, which he led to the Euro 2008 semi-finals last month.
The country had not advanced to the knockout stage of a major competition in 20 years.
The Dutchman — a hero in South Korea — also took Australia to the second round of the World Cup two years ago.
Hiddink arrived Monday to attend this week’s opening of a football pitch named after him for disabled children in the southeastern port city of Pohang.
“You cannot guarantee 100 percent winning, but what we guaranteed to the public is that we would play in a very attractive style,” he said of Russia’s Euro 2008 performance.
“You must be very realistic,” he said, sitting at a lunch next to current South Korean national coach Huh Jung-Moo. “Let’s not forget realistically where Russia is, where Korea is.”
South Korea, seeking their seventh ticket to the World Cup, have made it to the final regional qualifying round starting in September. But their performance has been flawed in recent qualifiers.
“You must put the aims and targets, so everyone knows what to do within a team,” said Hiddink, quoted by Yonhap news agency.
“(A team) cannot always be top, top, top. But when players play with their heart, there’s no big problem.”
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