MOSCOW (AP) Since Fabio Capello took over as Russia coach two years ago, he has revitalized the national team.
Capello is the third foreigner to lead the team, but unlike predecessors Guus Hiddink and Dick Advocaat, the Italian moved to Russia and began looking for new young talents in the domestic league.
Capello's approach to football has long been described as conservative but might more accurately be called pragmatic, adapting his tactics to the means and players at his disposal. With Russia, the 67-year-old Italian gradually substituted several old players for younger ones and tried several different formations for his starting lineups.
And he achieved the result - Russia won its group and directly qualified for the World Cup. Now, the goal is to make it through to the knockout round from a group that includes Belgium, Algeria and South Korea.
''If we do not do it then the rest of our aims are of no interest,'' said Capello, who has won 10 of his 17 matches as Russia coach. ''The draw was in our favor and we have great expectations for the forthcoming event.''
Capello's success in qualifying earned him a contract extension that will keep him as coach through the 2018 World Cup - a tournament to be held in Russia.
At the club level, Capello has been superb, winning league titles with Real Madrid and AC Milan.
Before taking over Russia, Capello made his debut as a national team coach with England, leading the squad to the round of 16 at the 2010 World Cup. But he quit in February 2012 after the Football Association's decision to drop John Terry as captain without his agreement.