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By ESPN Staff

Blokhin to stay as Ukraine coach

KIEV, March 25 (Reuters) - The Appeal Court has cleared the way for Oleg Blokhin to return to his job as Ukraine coach.

Blokhin resigned this month, saying he could not combine the post with his other job as a Ukrainian parliament member. The court ruling on Friday, however, said he could do both jobs.

'I would like to thank the court for its objective and fair ruling in my case,' said the 52-year-old coach.

The head of Ukraine's soccer federation, Grigory Surkis, had asked the court to rule on whether Blokhin legally had the right to remain as coach and keep his seat.

The constitution bars deputies from holding other jobs but Blokhin receives no financial gain from coaching.

Blokhin, voted European Player of the Year in 1975, was elected as a Communist but switched to another party backing former President Leonid Kuchma, who stepped down in January.

He was named national coach in September 2003, replacing fellow ex-Soviet international Leonid Buryak, who was sacked following a string of poor results.

Immediately after his appointment, the former Soviet and Dynamo Kiev striker said his goal was to guide the country to their first major international finals - the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

The Ukrainian Football Federation also voted last week to keep Blokhin, who has led the former Soviet Republic to the top of European qualifying Group Two with 14 points from six matches, six ahead of European champions Greece.

Ukraine host Denmark, in third place with six points from five games, next Wednesday at Kiev's Olympic stadium.

'I think it (the court ruling) is great news for me and my players ahead of a very important qualifier,' said Blokhin.

'Definitely, it will give all of us a big boost next Wednesday against Denmark.'