Russia wins through to UEFA EURO 2004 final tournament

Georgy Yartsev, the head coach of Russia's national soccer team, is grateful to players who won through to the UEFA EURO 2004 final tournament, he told RIA Novosti after the team's determined effort at Cardiff's Millenium stadium, where Russia beat Wales 1-0 in the second leg of the playoff for the finals on Nov. 19, 2003.

The coach said all players he'd invited to the playoff displayed real combative and human qualities.

"We sincerely admire Vadim Yevseyev who was in a difficult family circumstances related to his daughter's operation, Alexei Smertin who recently had his knee operated, and Viktor Onopko who played the final part of the match with his head injured," Yartsev said. "I wouldn't name anyone specifically, but just want to thank the guys who sacrificed all they could for the sake of victory." Speaking about his future, the coach noted his contract with the national team was over after the meet with Georgia, but he couldn't "turn back halfway." As for further work as head coach of the national team, Yartsev said he was going to decide this after a conference of the Russian Soccer Union in mid-December.

"It'd be quite nice to complete what we've started in a worthy manner in Portugal," the coach concluded.

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