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Hiddink given the go ahead

LONDON, February 11 – Russian football chiefs gave Guus Hiddink the all-clear Tuesday to take over at Chelsea until the end of the season so long as he remains coach of their national side.

GUUS_HIDDINK"We can confirm that Chelsea officials have asked the Russian Football Union (RFU) to give their approval to Hiddink to combine his post of Russia’s national manager with coaching Chelsea," a statement on the RFU website said.

"The English side has offered Hiddink the chance to coach Chelsea until the end of this English Premier League season in May.

"We are ready to agree with this proposal if coaching the Russian national squad remains a matter of top priority for the Dutch coach."

The statement added that the RFU believed that such co-operation would not harm Russia’s 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign.

The RFU stressed that Hiddink would remain as the country’s manager until the end of 2010 World Cup.
Details of the agreement are due to be finalised at a meeting between Chelsea and the RFU.

Ealier Tuesday Chelsea, who sacked Brazilian manager Luiz Felipe Scolari on Monday, said they intended to hold talks with Hiddink.

"Chelsea Football Club can confirm we have officially approached the Russian Football Union (RFU) for permission to speak to Guus Hiddink to become the club’s temporary coach until the end of the season while continuing to be in charge of the Russia national team.

"That permission has been granted and Chelsea would like to thank the RFU for their co-operation."

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Hiddink, who knows Chelsea’s Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich well from his role with the national side, which the Blues backer has bankrolled, told the ITAR-TASS news agency: "There’s a possibility that I can accept Chelsea’s proposal and take over the club until the end of the season.

"If it was any other club I would definitely reject the offer but Chelsea is a very special case as I have very friendly relations with its owner. Anyway it’s for two or three months not longer."

Hiddink, who has repeatedly insisted he was focused primarily on taking Russia to the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, added: "I will not quit my work with Russia’s national side.

"I came to Russia to work in a long-term project and I’m not going to leave it unfinished," added Hiddink, who in 2002 stunned the football world by steering unfancied co-hosts South Korea to the semi-finals of the World Cup.

And he stressed he could hold down two jobs at the same time.

"I already have the experience of combining club work with coaching a national side. Two years ago I worked with Australia’s national squad and PSV (Eindhoven)."

Scolari, who guided Brazil to World Cup glory in 2002, was sacked after Chelsea had slipped down the table to fourth place in the Premier League and seven points behind leaders Manchester United.

Assistant manager Ray Wilkins, a former Chelsea captain, was placed in caretaker charge of the Blues.

Other names linked with the job included AC Milan manager Carlo Ancelotti and former Barcelona boss Frank Rijkaard and Roberto Mancini, formerly in charge of Inter Milan.

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And there were even suggestions Avram Grant, sacked as Chelsea manager last year, could return in some capacity.

But Hiddink, repeatedly tipped as a future Chelsea boss, now appears to be in pole position although his desire to do the job on a temporary basis still leaves open the question of who will be Scolari’s long-term replacement.

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