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Author Topic: Hiddink's frank Socceroos assessment  (Read 688 times)

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Hiddink's frank Socceroos assessment
« on: November 16, 2015, 01:51:23 AM »
HE is the man that led Australia to a first World Cup in 32 years, but Guus Hiddink has admitted even he doubted the Socceroos? ability to achieve the remarkable feat.

The Dutchman is in Australia to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the drought-breaking World Cup qualification and told Fox Sports? Simon Hill that the regard in which he is still held among Australian football fans brings him great joy.

In an exclusive interview, Hiddink also revealed how he captured the hearts of a nation by transforming a footballing minnow with little self-belief into a force capable of competing on sport?s biggest stage.

ON AUSTRALIA?S LOVE FOR HIM

On his first trip to Australia since leaving the Socceroos post, Hiddink was treated to a pulsating clash between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory in Saturday night?s A-League ?Big Blue?.

But despite doing his best to hide away in a box alongside Frank Lowy and fellow FFA heavyweights, Hiddink found himself swamped by fans eager to express their appreciation for his work a decade ago.

?Every now and then I have contact with people in Australia ? every year or every two or three months, but that was contact with friends,? Hiddink said.

?But now I?m here, I was yesterday at the game ? and people come to you, to me, and I was surprised about the depth of this contact.

?Normally after ten years things fade away, losses and also victories.

?But surprisingly this is very deep in their mind and in their heart and I like very much their reactions.?

ON HIS LOVE FOR AUSTRALIA

Hiddink has enjoyed great success at club and international level, but taking on the Socceroos role was always going to be a very ?different? challenge.

Merely qualifying for the World Cup finals was an enormous achievement in the circumstances ? with progression to the knockout stage simply remarkable.

It is this level of relative success that has led Hiddink to regard his Socceroos tenure as one of his best at any team throughout his 25-year managerial career.

?It?s one of the best I think, because you have to consider where we, Australia, came from,? he said.

?For 32 (years) not to qualify for a World Cup, then the Oceania group is relatively easy. But then you have to qualify through South America and number five in South America is always a strong nation and I think that made the achievement very high from the boys.

?Then going into the World Cup and not just being there as a participant but also making some good results, and then the bad luck, that?s what?s in my mind in the 89th or 90th minute against Italy. So, it means that it?s a huge achievement and I feel like that.?

ON INSTILLING BELIEF INTO THE SOCCEROOS

Fans and commentators often talk about the ?Aussie spirit? of mateship and never giving up regardless of the circumstances.

But when Hiddink embarked on his Socceroos project, one of the first things he noticed was the squad?s lack of self-belief.

Who could blame them ? he wasn?t convinced they could do it either.

?Not in the beginning ? one of the first meetings, one of the guys, I think it was Mark Viduka, he said, ?hey, why are you doing this??? Hiddink said.

?I said ?I like to be, first, working with young guys, but second, for the option to qualify?.

?(Viduka replied) ?Yeah but we didn?t qualify for 32 years? meaning that was a pessimistic attitude, that it was impossible to qualify through South America.

?And then we started working and the commitment was high, so they had passionate hearts, tactically and strategically it was not in balance with the super commitment of the guys so we worked on that.

?On top of that I said to Mark in this case ? to be honest he wasn?t in full shape physically ? I said ?if you go back to England now, come back in the next FIFA date and you have lost maybe two or three kgs, then I think you will show the ambition to go?.

?Not surprisingly but four or five weeks later on the next date (had lost some weight) ... and he said ?ok my friend, now we go?.?

So impressed was Hiddink by Viduka?s positive change in attitude that he named him captain.

?With Viduka, he was one of the guys outspoken in expressing his opinion, I think you have to make those guys responsible,? he said.

?In football ? you need your bosses on the pitch as well, which I like very much in the vertical parts of the team. So in the striker and the midfielder and the centre and defence, I like to have bosses who can execute what we prepare.

?He?s one of the bosses on that, but I also always say ?make from a poacher a ranger?. Then he has to take responsibility.?

ON MATCH DAY MIND GAMES

Hiddink?s manipulation of his players wasn?t confined to practice sessions and match preparation. He liked to keep them on their toes right up until game day.

In that do-or-die match on November 16, 2005, the master coach made a number of huge decisions ? none bigger than leaving superstar midfielder Harry Kewell on the bench.

?You have to go a little bit to the edge to get them a little bit thinking or feeling or getting the adrenaline out to perform,? Hiddink said.

?You mentioned those three guys (Tim Cahil, Mark Bresciano and Harry Kewell) ? I like them, I love them, at that moment even. But sometimes you have to put them a little bit on the edge of the nice zone. On top of that we had on this position we had very good competition within the team and they were very frank to each other.

?Harry was a little bit different because Harry was suffering a bit of not being physically 100 per cent fit. The main reason was that we played in Uruguay where he started, travelled back and the Uruguayans had more difficulties with their coming into Australia.

?So we had to (save Kewell on the bench) figuring that in the humidity that they might fade away during the game and then we need fresh blood, fresh air in the team and Harry is capable of making two or three individual actions to make the difference. That was also one of my thoughts in approaching that game.?

But for Hididnk and his players, the intensity of the World Cup was another experience altogether.

He admits that one of his biggest calls ahead of the do-or-die Group stage clash against Croatia was undoubtedly influenced by the rollercoaster of emotions experienced at the Cup.

?I think Schwarzer did very well and I don?t want to avoid the point that I in my opinion made not the happiest decision to on the World Cup to replace him against Croatia,? Hiddink said.

?Although it was not a huge performance against Japan in the first game, Mark Schwarzer did a wonderful job. I talked to him about this a little bit later on when he was in Fullham and I was in Chelsea. We talked about this history and it was perfect.?

ON THEIR HEARTBREAKING EXIT

While a World Cup can provide a lifetime of memories, Hiddink revealed that most prominent in his mind remains the decisive penalty decision late against Italy in the round of 16.

The Dutchman admits the questionable call still haunts him to this day.

?I go back to that and I had the experience of earlier World Cups and when you advance from the 16 and again in the quarters and semi and then you know those moments are key to go into maybe two rounds ahead?? Hiddink said.

?Still it?s haunting, that situation to me.?

Many felt Australia could have gone on to beat the eventual World Cup champions that day, but Hiddink wasn?t willing to commit either way.

?You cannot predict. They had one player sent off and then I had the impression that they would fade away and we had two fresh men still to bring in the last half an hour. But you cannot predict,? he said.

?I think we would have played Ukraine, so there were chances. But that?s in the past.?

ON THE DUTCH INFLUENCE

What isn?t up for debate is the influence of Hiddink and fellow Dutchman Han Berger and Pim Verbeek on Australian football over the past decade.

While he says he hasn?t seen much Australian football since leaving the Socceroos, Hiddink takes pride in knowing the foundations laid during his tenure have had a lasting effect on the game down under.

?Every now and then I had contact from people and what they were telling me from there on it was getting more professional, the way of playing, the teams, but also facilitating the teams more and more to professional level,? he said.

?I was happy that the responsible people of the FFA nominated some Dutch managers and coaches and they had their influence but they must maintain their Australian passion, which is important.

?If you have those two combined then it?s ok. If you only go Australian, I?m exaggerating, but with just passion or only go with the Dutch way of only having this nice way of playing, either one would work.

?If you have this combination then you can go up to the next level.?

http://www.foxsports.com.au/football/socceroos/guus-hiddink-exclusive-simon-hill-chats-to-former-socceroos-coach-ahead-of-10-year-anniversary-of-world-cup-qualification/story-e6frf4l3-1227610021713
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