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    Advocaat extends contract with Zenit

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    Zenit St. Petersburg's Dutch trainer, Dick Advocaat, has signed a one-year extension to his contract, the club announced on Friday.

    ST. PETERSBURG, November 7 (RIA Novosti) - Zenit St. Petersburg's Dutch trainer, Dick Advocaat, has signed a one-year extension to his contract, the club announced on Friday.

    "Today, Zenit FC extended the contract of its trainer, Dick Advocaat, until the end of 2009," the club said in a statement on its website.

    The 61-year-old Advocaat took over Zenit in June 2006 on a 1 1/2 year contract. He then signed a contract for another year with the club last winter, shortly after leading Zenit to its first Russian title.

    Vlastimil Petrzhela, the club's former Czech manager, had earlier said that "Zenit will never be allowed to become champions, because everything in Russian soccer is geared towards the Moscow teams."

    However, backed by state energy giant Gazprom, Advocaat has built a team that broke the traditional domination, both on and off the field, of the Moscow giants. The club's financial muscle was in evidence over the summer when it rejected a series of big-money bids for Russian star Andrei Arshavin and then splashed out almost $40 million on Dynamo Moscow's Portuguese attacking midfielder Danny.

    This year, Zenit won the UEFA Cup and the Super Cup, but have struggled to find consistent form as the demands of European top flight soccer took their toll.

    On Wednesday, Zenit won their first match in the Champions League, beating Belarusian champions BATE Borisov 2-0 in Minsk. The win followed narrow losses to Real Madrid, 2-1 at home, and Juventus, 1-0 away, plus a 1-1 draw with BATE in St. Petersburg.

    The club is in fifth place in the Russian league, battling for a spot in the top three and the 2009/10 Champions League place that goes with it.

    The Zenit trainer, who along with compatriot and national team coach Guus Hiddink has done much to turn around the fortunes of Russian soccer, is believed to earn around $4.5 million a year.

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