Hiddink To Focus On Now, Not The Past

The Socceroos will very quickly learn that reputations will count for nothing with new national team coach Guus Hiddink, who is focusing on the present, rather than the past when he names his squads for the upcoming matches against the Solomon Islands.

The Socceroos will very quickly learn that reputations will count for nothing with new national team coach Guus Hiddink, who is focusing on the present, rather than the past when he names his squads for the upcoming matches against the Solomon Islands.

Hiddink (pictured right in a jovial mood) said he will only pick players that suit his style of play and if that means several regulars miss out then so be it.

“I don-t focus on the past years and the usual line-up,” Hiddink responded, when asked if regular squad members over the past few years would be guaranteed to keep their places. “I am looking at the way I like to play and the best players who are fitting into those positions.”

The former Dutch and South Korean coach has vowed to bring his strongest squad for the two games against the Solomon Islands. He is likely to name his squad early next week for the two games on September 3 and 6.

“In aiming for the games in November, it will be a huge task and so I think it is convenient to have all possible players for the games against the Solomon Islands.

“We are evaluating the past three days and aim to bring around 20 players in and some home-based players. I don-t want to mention names now as we are in the process of deciding which players we will be taking.

“I intend to bring the strongest squad,” Hiddink insisted.

Hiddink, who combines his Australian national team job with that as coach of leading Dutch side PSV Eindhoven, believes the camp has been hugely beneficial for all concerned.

“First of all it has been a good decision to cancel the Colombia game,” Hiddink said, when asked what he has got out of the camp.

“Over the three days we-ve had a lot of training sessions where I can work with the players; get them to know how I see the game and get some good analysis of every individual player.

“We worked every day in the morning and the afternoon, with some tough sessions. Each session was about two to two and half hours and we-ve had some video sessions also, where we could do some analysis on the last games and how we would like to play in future games.”

“We worked in a very open atmosphere over the past few days and I enjoyed it very much.”

Defensive work was obviously one area that was targeted by Hiddink and assistant coach Graham Arnold, following the unsuccessful Confederations Cup campaign which saw 10 goals leaked in three matches.

“In the Confederations Cup, in my opinion, was that everyone was a little insecure when going back so far and conceding goals. For instance, on occasions there were two opponents and three, four or even five Australian players around them that did not mark.

“For me, it is more a matter of marking very tight. You don-t need five or six players there.

“In my opinion the whole team, in the modern game, when they don-t have possession of the ball has to defend. It-s not just the two, three, four defenders but the midfielders and strikers to defend in their positions as well. That-s why we did a lot in the training sessions on how to construct the game.”

The three days provided Hiddink with enough to suggest that Australia is well placed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany and even hinted that when they get there they can surprise a few people.

“There is confidence there of course,” Hiddink suggested. “The confidence is with the players, which I noticed after the first couple of days.

“They are so eager to qualify because for many players it-s the last opportunity to be on the world stage in Germany. They are very committed and very eager to take this chance.

“We would be very happy and I am sure you will be as well, when we are number 32 team to make it to Germany,” Hiddink added with much confidence.

“And the moment we get there, this team is very eager to go into more achievements. We still have to make that first step, but when the first step is hopefully made, I think this team is eager to do more than just participating.”

Hiddink-s only concern was the number of players that have niggling injuries and not playing at the moment.

“Yes it is a worry, because the players have to be fit and when they have had their pre-season with a lot of physical work, then you need to continue in the same physical shape when the matches start.

“Its worrying a little bit that after all this pre-season work they are starting on the bench.

He also praised the younger and inexperienced players that came into the squad and gave the older group some food for thought.

“It was a good experience to have the younger players, who are not in the daily spotlight in Europe, here and play against the bigger (more well known) guys.

“As a matter of fact they did rather well. There were a couple of innocent performances by some, but they are learning very fast.

Perhaps the final word summed up Hiddink-s experience of the past three days with the team.

“From my side I enjoyed it very much. I feel comfortable with the players and I think this team is very committed (to making the World Cup).”