Wed, Nov 21, 2007 - Page 20 News List

FIFA WORLD CUP 2010: Four of Asia's top five teams still searching for coaches to lead them to South Africa 2010


Less than three months out from their World Cup qualifying campaigns, four of Asia's top five teams are rudderless, desperately searching for coaches to steer them to the finals.

The uncertainty does not bode well for Australia, Japan, Iran and South Korea, who will be competing with 16 other teams for the four automatic qualifying berths allocated to Asia at the 2010 showpiece in South Africa.

Only Saudi Arabia, surprisingly, have stability, with Brazilian Helio dos Anjos surviving the notoriously demanding job for six months. The Saudis have axed 16 managers in the past 13 years.

Australia are still recovering from being snubbed by Dick Advocaat, who was set to be unveiled as the new Socceroos coach last weekend but stunned everyone by deciding to remain with new Russian champions Zenit St. Petersburg.

Jurgen Klinsmann, Martin Jol and even Jose Mourinho have been mentioned as possible replacements for stand-in coach Graham Arnold, who struggled to fill the shoes of Guus Hiddink.

South Korea, World Cup semi-finalists in 2002, have been leaderless since Pim Verbeek resigned in late July after their disappointing third-place finish at the Asian Cup.

The Dutchman is another name to be linked with the Australia job and he could fit the bill.

He learned the ropes as assistant manager under Advocaat and then Hiddink in South Korea, giving him the type of knowledge of Asian soccer that is so vital for the Socceroos manager.

His replacement for South Korea, who have qualified for the past six World Cups, remains undetermined.

The country's soccer governing body said this month it was looking for a foreign coach despite the resignation of the past two.

Korean newspapers have cited potential candidates to include former Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier, Mick McCarthy -- who managed Ireland and is currently manager of Wolves -- and Czech veteran Milan Macala.

Japan are also at a crossroads after coach Ivica Osim suffered a serious stroke last week.

The 66-year-old Bosnian, who led the former Yugoslavia to the 1990 World Cup quarter-finals, collapsed after watching an English Premiership match on TV.

Japan's Nikkan Sports daily reported yesterday that Holger Osieck, the German coach of J-League champions Urawa Red Diamonds, was in line to take over, although the club denied this.

Iran, meanwhile, appear ready to spend money to find the right man to whip their underachieving stars into shape following the sacking of Amir Ghalenoei in the aftermath of the Asian Cup.

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