Former Canada soccer coach Holger Osieck fired as Australian coach
Former Australian national soccer head coach Holger Osieck, center, speaks to players during a training session at the Parc des Princes in Paris, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013. (AP / Christophe Ena)
The Associated Press
Published Saturday, October 12, 2013 2:19PM EDT
YDNEY, Australia -- Socceroos coach Holger Osieck has been fired in the wake of Australia's 6-0 loss to France in a friendly in Paris on Friday, prompting a search for a replacement just eight months out from the World Cup.
Football Federation Australia announced early Saturday that Osieck's contract had been terminated.
German-born Osieck was already under pressure after Australia's 6-0 loss to Brazil last month and Australian media reported he needed a draw or better on Friday to save his job.
In a statement released in Australia on Saturday, chairman Frank Lowy said the decision was "based on the longer term issues of the rejuvenation of the Socceroos team and the preparations for the World Cup and the Asian Cup."
"FFA has set a strategic objective of having a highly-competitive team in Brazil and then handing over a team capable of winning the Asian Cup on home soil in January 2015. We have come to the conclusion that change is necessary to meet those objectives," Lowy said.
FFA chief executive David Gallop said assistant coach Aurelio Vidmar will act as caretaker coach for Australia's match against Canada in London this Tuesday.
Gallop said Head of National Performance Luke Casserly and the National Technical Director Han Berger will be charged with finding a new head coach.
The most popular appointment with Australian fans would be the return of Guus Hiddink, who guided Australia to a second-round appearance at the 2006 World Cup, losing only to a late goal by eventual champion Italy. The Dutchman has been out of work since leaving Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala in July.
Lowy has appointed European coaches under his current reign, but prominent local A-League coaches Ange Postecoglou, Tony Popovic and Graham Arnold are also considered candidates.
Friday's crushing defeat at the Parc des Princes -- in which France led 4-0 inside 30 minutes and could well have scored in double figures -- led to an outpouring of anger from fans and former players.
Former Australia international Robbie Slater tweeted "worst position we've ever been in. Embarrassing! I feel for the young players."
The 65-year-old Osieck managed Canada from 1998 to 2003. Most famously he led "Holger's Heroes" to victory in the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup, earning the Canadians a trip to Japan for the Confederations Cup.
When he stepped down after a disastrous 2003 Gold Cup, the no-nonsense German coach left with a record of 20-17-9 and Canada ranked 78th in the world.
He was appointed Australia's national coach in 2010 and guided Australia to its third-straight World Cup. But their form during this year's qualifying campaign was often unconvincing and their successive 6-0 defeats ended his three-year term.
Asked about his future immediately after Friday's defeat -- and before his firing was confirmed -- Osieck seemed to have accepted he would be removed.
"Two heavy losses of that extent gives some food for discussion. The merits of the past are forgotten when this happens."
Current Australia midfielder Tim Cahill showed some sympathy for his sacked coach, tweeting "want to say thankyou to Holger for getting us to our third World Cup. Is this a first, to get us to WC and get the sack. Sad day for football in Oz."
Osieck, who was an assistant to manager Franz Beckenbauer when Germany won the 1990 World Cup, took over as Australia coach in 2010, shortly after its exit in the group stages of that year's World Cup.
It's qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was in jeopardy after a loss to Jordan but it finally sealed its place with an 83rd-minute goal to Josh Kennedy in its final qualifying match, at home to Iraq.
Osieck had been widely criticized for sticking with aging players such as Mark Schwarzer, Cahill, Lucas Neill and Mark Bresciano and others of the so-called "Golden Generation" which got Australia to the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
Osieck's removal continued a bad recent run for coach of Australian national teams. Cricket coach Mickey Arthur and rugby coach Robbie Deans had also been removed in the second half of 2013.