Holger Osieck, an assistant to Franz Beckenbauer on Germany’s 1990 soccer World Cup-winning team, was hired as Australia coach to oversee a “period of rejuvenation and transition,” Football Federation Australia said.
Osieck, a 61-year-old German, takes the post vacated by Pim Verbeek following the Socceroos’ group-stage exit from the World Cup in South Africa. The appointment ends a five-month search for a successor as the team rebuilds for January’s Asian Cup and the start of qualifying next year for the 2014 World Cup.
“After the World Cup in South Africa a new cycle has started with new objectives,” Osieck said in a televised video conference from Slovenia. “We’re not starting from scratch. Australia has done really well in recent years, participated in two World Cups, and our first target should be to establish our team on that level on a permanent basis.”
Osieck, who was a member of FIFA’s Technical Study Group at the 2010 World Cup, most recently managed Japanese J-League club Urawa Red Diamonds, whom he led to the 2007 Asian Champions League title. He guided Canada to victory at the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup and also coached clubs in France, Germany and Turkey.
After a brief playing career in Germany and Canada, he completed a degree in humanities and social science before acquiring his coaching licenses.
Frenchman Paul Le Guen, Englishman Steve McClaren, Argentine Marcelo Bielsa and Javier Aguirre of Mexico were among the other coaches to have been canvassed by the FFA, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
FFA Chairman Frank Lowy said Osieck was among “six to eight” candidates who made the final interviews. He said he consulted Beckenbauer, the only man to captain and coach his country to World Cup victory, before offering him the job.
“There were some very interesting names,” Lowy said. “It’s a very difficult decision to appoint a new coach because so much is required of him, so much is expected of him.”
Australia captain Lucas Neill said before the announcement that the new coach would need to embrace the team’s ethos.
“It’s just important that they buy into what it is to be Australian, be very proud and realize what it means to the country and to us to represent not only in Asia but in the World Cup,” Neill told reporters in comments broadcast on Fox Sports.
Guus Hiddink and Verbeek took the Socceroos to the past two World Cups, while their fellow Dutchman Han Berger is currently the FFA’s national technical director and will take charge of the Socceroos for today’s exhibition match against Slovenia.
“After a World Cup there’s some personnel changes,” Osieck added. “Some players who used to be the cornerstones of the team have retired and other young players will be brought into the team, so you will have a kind of transition. It’s a very big challenge. I’m looking forward to it.”