MOSCOW, May 17- Russia on Monday named Dutchman Dick Advocaat as its new football coach, handing him the mission of overcoming the bitter disappointment of failing to reach the World Cup finals.
Advocaat replaces fellow Dutchman Guus Hiddink, who became a national hero in Russia for the team’s stellar performance in the 2008 European Championships but then could not guide the team towards the South Africa World Cup.
"Dick Advocaat will be appointed as the head coach of the Russian national side," Russian news agencies quoted the federation head Sergei Fursenko as saying.
"He is flying to Moscow and on Tuesday will present his proposals for working with the Russian football team," Fursenko said at a news conference in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don.
Ex-Rangers coach Advocaat is already well known to Russia’s demanding football public, having coached Saint Petersburg team Zenit for four years and to a famous victory in the UEFA Cup.
"Dick Advocaat is great, firstly because he is a hard worker," said Fursenko.
"And secondly, he knows Russian football very well. He knows every player, even in detail, and there will be no need to explain things to him."
Helped with funding from Russia’s state owned gas giant Gazprom, Advocaat transformed Zenit from perennial underachievers into champions. At the club, he oversaw the early careers of stars like Arsenal midfielder Andrei Arshavin.
Advocaat left the club in 2009, after Arshavin was sold to Arsenal and Zenit suffered a slump in form, becoming head coach of the Belgian national team.
Financial details of the deal were not disclosed but Fursenko said that Advocaat would earn less than Hiddink. A contract has already been signed with Advocaat for four years and will take effect from July.
According to Russian media, Hiddink took home a colossal annual salary of seven million euros, the highest in the history of Russian football. He was also criticised in the media for spending too little time in the country.
Fursenko also admitted that after the high of Euro 2008, the Russian football system was in need of fresh blood.
"We need footballers who are motivated and focused from a young age on achieving the best result," he said, adding that Russia needed to find an "ideology of victory".
Fursenko set Advocaat the task of reaching the finals of Euro 2012 — to be held in neighbouring Ukraine and Poland — and the 2014 World Cup. "And to show the maximum results in these tournaments."
To reach the Euro 2012 finals, Advocaat will need to shepherd his team through a tricky group that includes Slovakia and the Republic of Ireland. And he can be sure his performance will be watched at the highest level.
Russia’s poor performance at the last Winter Olympics was a major blow to a nation used to sporting success and prompted expressions of disappointment from the Kremlin and strongman leader Vladimir Putin.