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By ESPN Staff

Hodgson to coach Finland after World Cup

HELSINKI, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Former Blackburn Rovers, Inter Milan and Switzerland coach Roy Hodgson signed a contract on Friday to become the coach of Finland's national team in just under a year's time, the Finnish football association said.

Hodgson, who is currently at Norway's Viking Stavanger, will take over from interim coach Jyrki Heliskoski on August 1, 2006 as Finland start their qualifying campaign for the European championship in 2008 in Austria and Switzerland.

Heliskoski was appointed last month for the rest of the 2006 World Cup qualifiers after Antti Muurinen, in charge since 2000, was sacked when hopes of reaching the finals were virtually ended in a 4-0 home defeat by the Netherlands.

The Finns beat Macedonia 3-0 on Wednesday but still trail the pace-setting Dutch by 10 points in Group 1 qualifying.

Hodgson, 58, took Switzerland to the 1994 World Cup finals in the U.S. where they reached the second round and to their first appearance in a European championship at Euro '96.