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Football: ADVOCAAT WAITS ON UEFA VERDICT.

Byline: JOE McHUGH

RANGERS will find out tomorrow whether they will have to play Anzi Makhachkala in war-torn Dagestan.

The Foreign Office have advised against travelling to Dagestan, and because of the risks Rangers are finding it difficult to insure their &L&70 million squad.

Unfortunately Rangers have found themselves caught up in the middle of a wrangle between Russia and UEFA.

Lokomotiv Moscow have been forced to replay the second leg of their Champions League qualifier with Tirol Innsbruck after the Austrians protested to UEFA about a refereeing decision.

A case of mistaken identity allowed one of the Russian defenders to remain on the park when a second yellow card should have earned a dismissal.

As well as punishing the referee UEFA ordered a replay of the match which united the entire Russian state in condemnation of the games governing body.

While that situation was on going UEFA refused to budge to requests from Rangers, backed by the Home Office, to move the tie from war ravaged Dakestan.

Adding fuel to the flames was English referee Graham Poll's performance last week in the international between Russia and Slovenia which saw Russia lose out to a hotly disputed penalty.

In those circumstances UEFA have been careful not to further insult Russian pride by shifting the Rangers tie but there is no doubt that they would have acted differently and quicker if Anzhi had drawn an Italian or German club.

Advocaat can't allow the politics involved cloud his judgement with his very future dependent on Rangers sustaining their interest in the UEFA Cup at least until Christmas.

"For me it is really strange that UEFA can decide that we have to go there," the Rangers boss revealed. "It shows you how powerful UEFA are.

"My biggest concern is that the players families are scared and I can understand why, but none of them have came to me to say that they don't want to go.

"It is surprising that so far UEFA still say we should go."

Turning to the difficulties on the pitch Advocaat added: "I have a tape with two games on it so that's not a real problem but there are better ways to find out information.

"We tried two weeks ago to watch Anzhi when they played in Moscow but we couldn't get a visa. On Thursday they played near Moscow but again we couldn't a visa.

"That's a bit strange and has upset our plans, these are small things but important.

"Having said that we will go there in a very positive frame of mind."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 9, 2001
Words:429
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