Frank Rijkaard is on the shortlist to replace fellow Dutchman Pim Verbeek as Australia football coach, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph reported on Thursday.
Verbeek announced this week that he would not stay on after shepherding the Socceroos through only their third World Cup campaign.
Rijkaard, now coach at Galatasaray, would be asked to bring with him his assistant at the Turkish powerhouse, Johan Neeskens. Neeskens was also Rijkaard’s deputy at FC Barcelona.
At Galatasaray, the Dutch duo mentors two senior Socceroos, Lucas Neill and Harry Kewell.
Before turning to coaching -- his first job was taking the Netherlands to the semi-finals of the Euro 2000 tournament -- Rijkaard played alongside fellow Dutchmen Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit at big-budget AC Milan.
The paper said that sounding out Rijkaard shows the willingness of Australian football supremo Frank Lowy to pay top dollar to see the Socceroos qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
Lowy, the football nut who founded Westfield Group, which runs the world’s biggest shopping centre, is also bidding for Australia to host the 2018 World Cup. A good showing in 2014 would help that bid.
The paper said former Liverpool and France coach Gerard Houllier was also in the mix, despite having turned down the job when it was offered him after the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Rijkaard would be the third Dutchman in a row to lead the Socceroos, Verbeek taking over from Guus Hiddink following the campaign in Germany.
Football commentator Michael Lynch reasoned that while appointing another Dutchman would provide continuity “it could also be stifling and one-dimensional, shutting Australia off from a much broader base of coaches who could bring different colour and shade to the national soccer palette.” The clamour is for a change from endless orange and the dour brand of football espoused by Verbeek, who has been in the Australia dugout for 27 matches, winning 15, drawing eight and losing four. Under him, the team scored 34 goals and conceded 14.
One commentator noted that Verbeek has “turned many Australian supporters off the team purely for the fact that they play boring football and do not provide many chances during 90 minutes of a football match.” Another blasted the Rotterdam-born strategist for being so dismissive of the quality of club football in Australia that he did not bother to attend last week’s A League cup final.
Some fans have sprung to Verbeek’s defence, arguing that he managed to get his team to the World Cup and that he is serving out his contract rather than leaving early.