BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — A blast from the past will be on the bench for Australia when the World Cup-bound Socceroos take on New Zealand in a friendly on Thursday — former coach Guus Hiddink.
Hiddink will act as head coach Graham Arnold’s assistant for the match in Brisbane in a role reversal of the side’s journey to the final 16 at the World Cup in Germany in 2006, when Australia lost to eventual champions Italy 1-0.
“I got a call from Arnie. It wasn’t a question. He said, ‘I want you to come’,” the now-retired Dutch coach told media on Wednesday. “Without any doubts for a second I said, ‘I’m coming’.”
It will be Australia’s last home match before the start of November’s tournament in Qatar. The Socceroos will also play New Zealand in Auckland on Sunday.
Arnold and HIddink traded stories and cracked jokes in a 30-minute media conference on Wednesday, Arnold keen to have some of the Socceroos’ golden generation rub off on his squad.
“I just had this crazy thought one night to bring back a guy that’s mentored me and helped me so much in my life and my career,” Arnold said. “We need the best (players) and I know with Guus’s eye on talent and the way he speaks to players, in this camp he can be a real bonus.”
Hiddink, who also took South Korea to the 2002 World Cup semifinals, urged the Australians to “play football in an attacking way” in World Cup Group D games against France, Tunisia and Denmark. Australia plays France on Nov. 23, Tunisia on Nov. 26 and Denmark on Dec. 1.
Australia advanced to a fifth consecutive World Cup in the final phase of qualifying after a penalty shootout win over Peru in Qatar in June.
“You tell some good stories from the past, but there’s always a relation to the present and that’s why I think I can help for the few days I’m here,” Hiddink said.
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