German Holger Osieck has been named head coach of Australia as the Socceroos prepare to face Slovenia in front of their new boss in a friendly in Ljubljana on Wednesday.
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Osieck's appointment comes as some surprise with the FFA believed to be chasing a higher-profile coach, possibly in charge of a team at the 2010 World Cup, to succeed Pim Verbeek in the national team hotseat.
But FFA chairman Frank Lowy insists Osieck, who was an assistant to German legend Franz Beckenbauer when Germany won the 1990 World Cup, and has crucial experience in Asia from winning the Asian Champions League with Japan's Urawa Red Diamonds, is the man to continue Australia's climb up the world rankings while helping improve the standard of coaching and player development in the blossoming football nation.
Osieck's previous national team role was a successful reign with Canada, who he guided to the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2000. He halso coached clubs in Turkey and Germany.
Crucial to the Australia role, Osieck declared he would base himself down under, and his experience working with youth sides and on FIFA's technical committee gave him the edge for the position as the FFA search for a candidate who can help drive Australian football through what will be a transitional phase following the passing of the 'golden generation' who formed the core of the 2006 and 2010 World Cup squads.
"I am excited about working with the Socceroos and building on the team's impressive results in Asia and around the world,'' Osieck said. "Taking over at a stage of natural transition as we start our preparations for 2014 is an ideal opportunity to influence the future direction of the young players and coaches from Australia.
"I think it's a big challenge and I am looking forward to it. I hope we will get where we want to be. Australia has done really well in recent years. I need to get a better knowledge of Australian football. I have a basic knowledge but I don't have the in-depth knowledge. The players will make a system. I want to have a look at the quality of the players, the capacity of each of them and from there I go.''
Osieck will watch from the stands as technical director Han Berger controls the Socceroos for the Slovenia clash, and his first matches in charge will arrive next month when Australia face Switzerland and Poland. Lowy, who sought advice from Beckenbauer before making the appointment, believes Osieck's experience Asian football bodes well for the future of the Socceroos.
"Holger has extensive knowledge of Asian Football having won the AFC Champions League with Urawa Red Diamonds,'' he said. "He has experienced what it takes to traverse Asia and win tournaments and this will be invaluable experience as he leads our team into the AFC Asian Cup in January 2011 and as we prepare for another challenging campaign to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil in 2014.
"Holger has also worked in a nation where football is not the number one sport and proved that he can win a major Championship against nations who have football in their veins when he won the CONCACAF Gold Cup with Canada. One of the major criteria was his background in educating and teaching and being with youth. He will do the educating job, in the main for coaches. We hope in the medium term, as a result of Holger's appointment, to be able to have an Australian head coach in the near future.''