UEFA Cup final will be tough for both teams, say coaches

Dick Advocaat and Walter Smith, whose sides will be facing each other in the UEFA Cup final, said Tuesday that they expect a very tough game, dpa reported.

Former Glasgow Rangers coach Advocaat, who is now in charge of Zenit St Petersburg, said Wednesday's final in Manchester against his former club will not be easy.

"There is no reason why we should change our strategy for the game on Wednesday. We have a lot of quality players and so do they. We will play our game."

Smith, whose side has conceded just two goals en route to the final in the City of Manchester Stadium, said he expected a very hard match.

"I think they are the favourites. The way they played against Bayern must make them favourites. They did so well against such a strong side," he said.

"Bayern are 10 points ahead in the German championship and have conceded just 20 goals in 33 Bundesliga matches and to score four against them shows that they are a very good side."

Dutchman Advocaat, however, said that both sides had the same chance. "Hopefully we can expect a very good game with us emerging as winners. But both teams know each other quite well and I don't think there will be a big difference between the two sides."

The one thing the coaches agreed upon was that it made no sense to practise penalties.

Smith said that he did not think one could practise penalty- taking. "We did not practise this, as the situation in a game is so different."

Advocaat had his players taking penalties, but told the media that it was more to appease them than to be prepared for a match situation.

"If we did not do it and we lost on penalties the media would say we should have practised. I do not think that you can really practise penalties. If I take one now, I will score, but in a game with so much pressure, it is a different thing."

Advocaat paid a tribute to Rangers, who he said had done remarkably well with few resources. "I have a great respect what the club did with little money. I have to compliment the staff and the directors."

He said that there was no Rangers player whom he feared particularly. "I think the whole side is good. We will not work out our tactic for one player, we need to look at the whole side."

He said that he believed both teams in the final were not getting the respect they deserved. "People did not think that the two clubs could qualify. But to get here, we had to beat big clubs and that should get us some respect."

He downplayed the issue raised mainly in the Scottish press that black players in the Rangers squad could face abuse by the Zenit fans during the match.

"There are many black players in the Russian league. Race is not an issue at all and I am concentrating on the game. I am not interested in the other thing."

Smith too, said that he was not concerned about racial abuse for his players from the Zenit fans. "I have enough problems with the Rangers fans, I can't concentrate on the Zenit fans."

The Rangers boss, whose club earlier criticized the Scottish FA for not giving them a league break on the weekend, said they had now put the issue behind them.

"Having had a break since Saturday is probably the longest break we have had for a long time. I think we should be well-rested for the game," he said.

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