Australia sacks coach in wake of France humbling
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Australia sacked its national football team coach Saturday after being trounced 6-0 in a friendly against France. Holger Osieck coached Australia for three years and was preparing the team for the 2014 World Cup, only eight months away.
Chief executive David Gallop delivered the decision of the Football Federation Australia board to Osieck in the locker rooms of the Parc des Princes in Paris, ending the German coach’s three-year tenure, even though he had fulfilled his main mission to guide Australia’s to the 2014 Cup in Brazil.
Osieck’s assistant Aurelio Vidmar was named caretaker coach for Australia’s next match against Canada in London on Tuesday but it was unclear Saturday whether the FFA had a long-term successor in mind.
FFA chairman Frank Lowy said the decision to sack Osieck had been made to ensure the “rejuvenation” of the Australian team, perhaps in reference to Osieck’s loyalty to the "golden generation" of aging Australian players who reached the 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals.
Dutchman Guus Hiddink, who steered Australia into the last 16 at the 2006 Cup was a fan favorite to succeed Osieck and may be available after recently resigning from his Russian club. A-League coaches Graham Arnold - an assistant under three previous Australian coaches - Ange Postecoglou and Tony Popovic were also identified as possible local candidates.
Arnold was the first to express interest.
“I’m a proud Australian and, if I was offered the job, of course I’d love to coach the Socceroos,” he told Fairfax Media.
Arnold said there was still time for Australia to fix its World Cup preparations after successive 6-0 losses to France and Brazil.
“We have to fix the culture,” he said. “The culture is the first thing that needs fixing.”
“The players are better than what they are showing at the moment.”
Lowy had shown a preference for European coaches, having appointed
Hiddink, Dutchman Pim Verbeek and Osieck during his chairmanship of the federation.
“FFA has set a strategic objective of having a highly-competitive team in Brazil and then handing over a team capable of winning the Asian Cup on home soil in January 2015. We have come to the conclusion that change is necessary to meet those objectives.”
Gallop said Head of National Performance Luke Casserly and the National Technical Director Han Berger will undertake a review of the national team and oversee the appointment of a new head coach.
“The World Cup kicks off in eight months and the Asian Cup is 15 months away. We are determined to make the most of the historical opportunities that these tournaments present to Australian football,” Gallop said.
“FFA will give the highest priority to these projects because the Socceroos are the standard bearers for Australia on the world stage.”
The reactions of current and former players to Osieck’s sacking was mixed. Current Socceroos midfielder Tim Cahill immediately defended the sacked coach, tweeting “want to say thank you to Holger for getting us to our 3rd World Cup. Is this a first...get us to WC and get the sack. Sad day for Football in Oz.”
Former players were less kind. Retired international Robbie Slater told Twitter followers “worst position we’ve ever been in. Embarrassing! I feel for the young players.”
Osieck joins a procession of Australian national team coaches through the exit door in recent months, following cricket coach Mickey Arthur and rugby coach Robbie Deans.