Capello, Guardiola among candidates for Russia job
MOSCOW - Former England manager Fabio Capello and ex-Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola are among 13 high-profile candidates for the job of Russia coach, the Russian Football Union (RFU) said on Tuesday.
The list also includes former Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp, ex-Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, former Italy coach Marcello Lippi and Argentine Marcelo Bielsa.
"The (RFU) officially would like to inform that it plans to hold talks with these specialists about one of them becoming the head coach of the Russian national team," the union said in a short statement on its website (www.rfs.ru).
Phil Smith, Redknapp's agent, said his client was open to negotiations.
"Absolutely," Smith was quoted as saying by Russian media when asked if Redknapp, sacked by the Spurs last month, would be interested in taking the job.
"Would Harry have a problem coming to Russia? No. He's ready to go and live in any country, especially as big as Russia. I think such offer would definitely interest him if it came, but so far, we haven't heard anything about it."
Pierfilippo Capello, Capello's son who also acts as his agent, said his father was interested in coaching Russia.
"I heard this news just minutes ago and didn't have time to talk to my father," Capello Jr. told the Sovietsky Sport daily.
"But I can say that he would be very interested to become Russia's coach. My father has always been a great admirer of the Russian team and I know that he would be glad to talk to (RFU) officials and listen to their proposals."
One name conspicuous by its absence was Manchester City's Italian manager Roberto Mancini who agreed a new five-year contract with the English Premier League champions on Monday.
On Monday, Russian media, quoting RFU and Sports Ministry sources, said Mancini had agreed a four-year deal to become Russia's new coach after officials found a "signed contract" in the safe of former RFU chief Sergei Fursenko.
Fursenko, a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, quit his post last month.
The RFU was forced to reveal the names of the candidates amid intense media speculation about the job, which became vacant following Dutchman Dick Advocaat's departure after Russia's failure to get past the group phase at Euro 2012.
Others on the RFU list are Russian, including Valery Gazzayev, Anatoly Byshovets and Yuri Semin, who coached the national team in the past but were sacked or quit following a string of poor results.
Former CSKA Moscow boss Gazzayev and Valery Nepomnyashchy, who led Cameroon to the 1990 World Cup quarter-finals, called the selection process a joke.
"It's just a circus and I have no comment on it," Gazzayev was quoted as saying by the Sovietsky Sport newspaper, while 68-year-old Nepomnyashchy said: "My name is on the list? Well, it must be a good joke."
Local media and most soccer experts said, however, that a Russian would be a long shot for the post, with Capello and Guardiola seen as the early front-runners. (Editing by Ed Osmond)