German Holger Osieck has been named the new coach of Australia. A former assistant to German legend Franz Beckenbauer, Osieck was officially announced as the new Socceroos boss by Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy today.
The 61-year-old is a surprise choice, with the FFA initially setting their sights on South Africa coach Carlos Parreira and Cameroon boss Paul Le Guen as Pim Verbeek's successor.
Osieck enjoyed a modest playing career in Germany before coaching stints in Turkey with Fenerbahce in Turkey and Urawa Red Diamonds in Japan's J-League. He was assistant to Beckenbauer when Germany won the 1990 FIFA World Cup™ and spent four years as Canada's national coach, guiding them to success in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2000.
"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."
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."