Advocaat gets thumbs up from Malafeev

Russia's impressive start to their Euro 2012 campaign is down to coach Dick Advocaat, Zenit Saint-Petersburg and Russian first choice goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev told

Malafeev, who got the nod to start in goal for their first two Group A games ahead of former first choice 'keeper Igor Akinfeev, said the time spent by the 64-year-old Dutchman in charge of Zenit Saint-Petersburg had given him valuable insight into the players at his disposal.

Advocaat, who succeeded his equally celebrated compatriot Guus Hiddink in 2010, has overseen the Russians hammer Czech Republic 4-1 and then held to a 1-1 draw by co-hosts Poland in their second game leaving them needing a draw in their final game against bottom of the table Greece to progress to the last eight.

"I think he has a lot of qualities, and he shows them at the right moments and therefore gets results," said Malafeev, who has maintained his fine form in goal for club and country despite losing his wife in a car accident last year.

"I think he really knows what he is doing; he has a lot of experience, and he knows every player that's available to him. He has faith in his players, as he always tells us."

Malafeev, 33 and capped 27 times, knows Advocaat. or the 'Little General' as he is also known, from his days in charge of Zenit where he enjoyed a successful spell and guided them to the 2008 UEFA Cup triumph.

"When he was coaching Zenit, we played against various teams in the Russian league, so he knows all the players well," said Malafeev.

"He never had any problems adapting to players or managing them. He then created a certain playing strategy which we've been using for the past two years, and which we try to better with each game."

Malafeev, who said that neither he nor Akinfeev knew until the last minute who would play in the opener against the Czechs, said the fact that seven of the players who started both matches came from Zenit was a major bonus.

"Obviously that helps," he said. "We know each other's qualities, and know where we'll all be on the pitch."

Malafeev admitted, though, that that familarity did not extend to the defence where three of the back four are non-Zenit players, though, it wasn't an insurmountable problem.

"We have to make arrangements before the game about what we'll do on the pitch," he said.

"Most importantly, we're all professionals, so we have no problem discussing how we'll tackle it. We just go out and play. These guys have played together for a while now, and also with the national team, so we have a mutual understanding."


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