Australia accelerates global search for new coach

Australia's national men's football team, the Socceroos, will play five home matches in the next ten months as their 2010 World Cup qualification campaign kicks into gear. Football Federation Australia CEO Ben Buckley said with Argentina and China already confirmed, a search was underway for another friendly opponent to play in May 2008 during the FIFA Congress in Sydney, while Australia would also host legs of their opening World Cup qualification matches in February and June. He said FFA had written to overseas-based Socceroos to notify them of the hefty schedule, but expected full strength line-ups for the upcoming friendlies. "We've got no reason to expect that we won't have a full team ... We've written to the players over the past few days just outlining the schedule over the next six to 12 months and we'll be in discussions with them about their own individual programs," he told AAP.

Buckley said caretaker coach Graham Arnold was likely to still be at the helm for the two friendlies, but said the FFA's "global search" for a new coach to replace Guus Hiddink had been accelerated. "At this stage Graham Arnold will be in charge of the team for both the game in September and October," he said. "But as we've said we'll undertake a global search, that has accelerated in the past few months or so. We now understand what the program is and the sooner we can have a decision on that obviously the better it is from a planning standpoint ... I'm always reluctant to put times around these sorts of things because it creates some false expectations, but we've been in discussion with a number of people in recent times and we're hopeful of concluding it shortly."

A host of names, including Dutchman Dick Advocaat and Asian Cup-winning Iraq coach Jorvan Vieira, have been linked to the position, though Buckley on Monday denied Vieira had been approached by FFA. "We haven't had any direct discussions with him," Buckley said. "If he was interested in coming to Australia in some capacity down the track I'm sure we'd be interested in talking to him. He's got a lot of experience working in various parts of Asia and no doubt he might be able to bring something to Australia."