Hiddink Names His Euro Squad

Russia striker Alexander Kerzhakov was a surprise omission when coach Guus Hiddink unveiled his 25-man provisional Euro 2008 squad Wednesday.

Kerzhakov has struggled for form since joining Dynamo Moscow from Seville in February.

The Dutchman also raised a few eyebrows by calling up midfielder Sergei Semak for the first time since he took over the Russia post in July 2006. Semak, 32, has been in sparkling form this season, helping unfancied Rubin Kazan to the top of the Russian premier league.

Hiddink also included three newcomers, Lokomotiv Moscow defender Renat Yanbayev and midfielders Oleg Ivanov of Krylya Sovietov Samara and Alexander Pavlenko of Spartak Moscow in the 25-man squad, which will be trimmed to 23 by May 28.

Hiddink said reaching the finals was itself a "big achievement for Russian football."

He said that that the aim would be to reach the second round, but that this would not be easy.

"Euro is full of quality if you compare it to a World Cup. There are no weak teams at Euro," he said. "Therefore, it's much tougher to make the second round at Euro than at a World Cup.

"We are a young team and will try to play attractive attacking football, not be an overly anxious defensive team."

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeyev (CSKA Moscow), Vyacheslav Malafeyev (Zenit St. Petersburg), Vladimir Gabulov (Amkar Perm).

Defenders: Sergei Ignashevich (CSKA), Alexei Berezutsky (CSKA), Vasily Berezutsky (CSKA), Alexander Anyukov (Zenit), Denis Kolodin (Dynamo Moscow), Renat Yanbayev (Lokomotiv Moscow).

Midfielders: Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (Lokomotiv), Yuri Zhirkov (CSKA), Igor Semshov (Dynamo), Dmitry Torbinsky (Lokomotiv), Vladimir Bystrov (Spartak Moscow), Konstantin Zyryanov (Zenit), Roman Shirokov (Zenit), Sergei Semak (Rubin Kazan), Alexander Pavlenko (Spartak Moscow), Oleg Ivanov (Krylya Sovietov Samara).

Forwards: Andrei Arshavin (Zenit), Pavel Pogrebnyak (Zenit), Roman Pavlyuchenko (Spartak Moscow), Dmitry Sychev (Lokomotiv), Roman Adamov (FK Moscow), Ivan Saenko (Nuremberg).

Hiddink has dismissed reports that he would quit following Euro 2008, but acknowledged that he only had a verbal agreement to remain in the post until the 2010 World Cup.

It was reported in March that Hiddink had signed a new two-year contract, but the Dutchman criticized FA president Vitaly Mutko for dragging out the contract negotiations.

"As I've said before many times I want to stay in this job. A hand-shake is good enough for me, but I'm still waiting on the contract," Hiddink said. "I would prefer to sign it before Euro 2008 so I don't have to answer the same question there about my contract."