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Oct 24, 2012

Jones wary of Hiddink magic

Brad Jones has warned Guus Hiddink's magic touch poses a major threat to Liverpool's hopes of Europa League progress.

Hiddink did much for the profile of football in Jones' native Australia by guiding them to the World Cup finals in 2006, the first time they had qualified in 32 years.

The coach has also taken Holland and South Korea to World Cup semi-finals, and took Russia to the last four at Euro 2008, in addition to winning six Dutch titles with PSV Eindhoven and the FA Cup with Chelsea.

Hiddink is currently in charge of an Anzhi Makhachkala side who lead the Russian league, backed by the fortunes of billionaire Suleyman Kerimov.

Using Kerimov's money, Anzhi have financed a number of signings, including Samuel Eto'o from Inter Milan, winger Yuri Zhirkov from Chelsea and centre-back Christopher Samba from Blackburn.

That expensively-assembled Anzhi squad visit Anfield on Thursday for a Europa League Group A meeting that could be key to Liverpool's chances of reaching the knockout stages.

Brendan Rodgers' side are third in the group, have beaten Swiss side Young Boys 5-3 away before losing 3-2 at home to Udinese.

Another home defeat against group leaders Anzhi would leave Liverpool with a huge amount of work to do to qualify for the last 32.

Jones is wary of the threat of Eto'o, but feels that Hiddink's ability as a coach is what makes Anzhi truly dangerous. "In terms of Guus, you get a reputation by achieving what he's achieved," said Jones, who made his international debut in 2007, a year after Hiddink left the Australia job.

"He seems to have been successful everywhere he's been. He was involved with the Australian national team and everyone speaks highly of him back home.

"He's certainly proved what he can do - in any league in any country, he's always achieved something. He's very experienced and I'm sure he'll have his side ready for us."

Jones, who made his first Premier League start for Liverpool in the 1-0 win over Reading last Saturday, will face Anzhi at Anfield because first-choice keeper Pepe Reina is still recovering from a hamstring strain.

The Australian is determined not to be intimidated by the form of Cameroon international Eto'o, who has scored 14 times in 19 appearances for Anzhi this season.

"Playing against whoever, it doesn't particularly bother me which player it is," Jones said. "It's the same idea when you go out - you don't want to concede goals.

"Obviously, Eto'o is a fantastic player and has been for a number of years at the top. You know you're going to have to be on top of your game. But I have to do that every day in training with players such as Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard anyway. So it's about making sure you concentrate and doing the right things."

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