Guus Hiddink has resigned as FC Anji Makhachkala coach and has been replaced by compatriot and former Manchester United FC assistant manager René Meulensteen.
Hiddink, 66, leaves his post after almost 18 months in charge of the Russian Premier League side. Following the Dutchman's appointment in February 2012, Anji finished fifth in his first season before securing their first top three spot last term as well as reaching the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League and the Russian Cup final.
"It was a tough decision for me," said Hiddink, who has previously coached PSV Eindhoven, the Netherlands, Real Madrid CF and Russia, among others. "I have always said my mission at Anji would be over when the club were able to develop and grow further on their own, without me. This time has come. I am sure a great future lies ahead for Anji. I am happy to have played my part."
Anji general director Ayvaz Kaziakhmedov moved quickly to name Meulensteen as Hiddink's successor, but was also keen to express his gratitude to the departing coach. "Hiddink was one of the key factors in building the new Anji, the image of the club both in Russia and abroad," an official statement read. "[He] played an important role in team development, club management and the creation of a football academy."
Meulensteen joined the Anji coaching staff at the beginning of the month, having worked in Qatar and in Denmark at Brøndby IF before serving under Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford from 2007 until the end of last season. The 49-year-old will have his work cut out, with Anji having collected just one point from their opening two league fixtures against FC Lokomotiv Moskva and FC Dinamo Moskva. Anji enter the UEFA Europa League at the group stage, the draw for which takes place on 30 August in Monaco.
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