One of the world’s most widely respected football coaches, Guus Hiddink, has been appointed as the new coach of the Australian national team. Hiddink, a dutchman, has twice taken teams to the World Cup semi-finals: the Netherlands in 1998 and, more remarkably, South Korea in 2002. He has now been charged with enormous task of guiding Australia into the 2006 World Cup, which means overcoming the fifth placed South American qualifier in November, assuming Australia first manages to beat the Solomon Islands in September. Hiddink’s first game as manager of Australia will be the first leg of the playoff with the Solomon Islands.
Until November, Hiddink will share his time between the club team PSV Eindhoven and the Australian national team. In last season’s European Champions League, the world’s top club competition, Hiddink was at the helm as PSV made it to the semi-finals of that competition, and so nearly overcame AC Milan to make it to the final.
In Guus Hiddink, the FFA have appointed the best man they could have. But now Hiddink faces a challenge the like of which he has never faced before. Let’s hope he can do what his predecessors could not.