Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Guus Hiddink: Out of World Cup Circulation

Nigeria has an opening for a coach. Japan might. North Korea might.

All we know for sure about those three jobs is this:

Guss Hiddink won't be taking them.

Hiddink is the planet's leading soccer-coach hired gun. Have passport, will travel. (And yes, I know that expression means nothing to non-Americans under the age of 50. It comes from an old American TV show, named "Have Gun-- Will Travel" and having to do with a gunslinger known as "Paladin" who would go wherever the pay was good.)

Guus is like that. A "show me the money" kind of guy. (Another American cultural reference. From the movie "Jerry Maguire..")

Anyway, Guus is golden after getting Holland to the 1998 World Cup semifinals, South Korea to the 2002 WC semifinals and Australia to the second round in 2006. Not to mention the Euro 2008 semifinal surge by Guus and his Russia team.

He will not, however, be coaching at South Africa 2010, and I'm a little disappointed in him because of that.

Guus apparently will sign a contract with Turkey when his stint with Russia is up, later this year. Which is fine ... but Turkey didn't qualify for the 2010 World Cup, and I think SA2010 is diminished by his not being there.

Really, this story is more about Euro 2012 than the 2010 World Cup. Well, of course. Hiddink's first goal is to get Turkey qualified for the big Euro event, after Turkey crashed out of South Africa qualifying.

I liked the concept of Guus as free agent. I would have like to see him in charge of Nigeria's talented but underachieving squad. Or Japan's or North Korea's -- if those jobs come open.

But Guus is living up to his Russia contract, then shifting to Turkey, and that's nice for those who like to see contracts fulfilled ... but takes away a little of the cachet when it comes to "who will Nigeria hire?" to coach its 2010 team.

Some other Euro, no doubt. Just not someone as successful as Guus has been.
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