Socceroos want Euro Hiddink replacement
MELBOURNE, June 28 (Reuters) - Australia's crestfallen soccer players believe another big name European coach should continue the good work started by Guus Hiddink at the World Cup finals.
The Dutchman transformed the team's fortunes after taking charge last July, leading them to a first finals in 32 years and then inspiring them to the brink of the quarter-finals before a heartbreaking loss to Italy in the second round on Monday ended their unlikely run.
Hiddink now moves on to a two-and-a-half year contract as coach of Russia but the players he leaves behind believe another big name European should take over the reins.
'I think we need to go to another European,' goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer told Australian Associated Press on Wednesday.
'With all respect to all the coaches back in Australia, I don't think anyone is ready for that level yet,' the Middlesbrough player added.
Assistant coach Graham Arnold had been a favourite to replace Hiddink, but the way the former Netherlands coach lifted Australia's image as one of the tournament's more combative and fluent teams may change Football Federation Australia's (FFA) mind.
'A lot of things have fallen into place in the last six to 12 months,' Schwarzer added.
'Guus has been a big part of that. What he has left is a hell of a position for the next person to try to come in and emulate.'
FFA chief executive John O'Neill admitted Australia's performances in Germany may result in more applicants for the post than would have been expected before.
'We need another Guus Hiddink. What a difference he has made,' O'Neill said.
'I've had some expressions of interest since I've been here from some fairly big names. We wouldn't have got it a year ago. It's a reflection of the fact we've never been on this stage.'
Another Dutchman, Johan Neeskens, will leave as a coach in the Australia set-up to join Frank Rijkaard's backroom team at Barcelona, probably leaving Arnold in sole temporary charge for the Socceroos's Asian Cup qualifiers until a full-time replacement is appointed.
With Arnold contracted to run Australia's team bidding for success at the 2008 Olympic in Beijing, a new name from outside of the existing structure appears a certainty with Gerard Houllier and former Glasgow Celtic boss Martin O'Neill touted as possible replacements.