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By ESPN Staff

Hiddink mulls Australia return for 2010 World Cup

MELBOURNE, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Dutch coach Guus Hiddink has not ruled out a return as coach of Australia for the 2010 World Cup, according to local media.

Hiddink, who was at the helm as Australia reached the second round of the World Cup finals in Germany earlier this year, is now in charge of Russia but says he is eager to coach at the next finals in South Africa.

'Anything is possible as I have a plan to coach at the World Cup in 2010 and of course my contract with Russia is until the middle of 2008,' Hiddink was reported as saying.

'After that who knows what will happen? Australia have continued to improve since I have left and that's good to see. I still follow them very closely.

'I have ruled out nothing at this stage. I have great thoughts of my time with the Socceroos and great respect for the team.'

The 60-year-old Hiddink took over as coach of Russia in July after guiding Australia to the last 16 in Germany before exiting at the hands of eventual champions Italy following a controversial late penalty.

Russia are second in their qualifying group for the 2008 European championships after disappointing home draws against Croatia and Israel.

'My job is with Russia. It is going quite well and they are my priority now,' said Hiddink, who led the Netherlands and South Korea to World Cup semi-finals in 1998 and 2002.

Graham Arnold took over as Australia's interim coach after Hiddink's departure while Football Federation Australia continue their hunt for a full successor to the Dutchman.

Since their Germany exit, the Socceroos have advanced as seeds for next year's Asian Cup after finishing top of their group in their first major qualifying tournament since switching from the Oceania grouping to the Asian Football Confederation.