Van Marwijk named head coach of Australia for World Cup

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SYDNEY (AP) World Cup final coach Bert Van Marwijk has been appointed head coach of Australia for the World Cup in Russia.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) chairman Steven Lowy said the Dutch coach’s experience was the perfect blend for the Socceroos’ Russian campaign.

“This is a great result for Australian football,” said Lowy. “Bert Van Marwijk is world-class. He took the Netherlands to the World Cup final in 2010, he led the Saudi Arabian team to qualify directly for this year’s finals and most importantly, he knows a lot about our team and how they play because he studied them closely as an opposition manager in the same group. These experiences make him a compelling choice.”

Van Marwijk said he was honored to be given the responsibility of taking the Socceroos to their fourth consecutive World Cup Finals.

“I know a lot about the players and how the team has been playing after coaching against them for the two World Cup qualifiers, in 2016 and in June last year,” Van Marwijk said. “I have also been impressed by the national team set-up that the FFA has developed over the past few years.”

Lowy paid tribute to former coach Ange Postecoglou, the support staff and especially the players for achieving qualification.

“We now go to Russia with a battle-hardened group of players and support staff who made it to the finals by the toughest road possible. In Bert Van Marwijk we have a manager who can achieve great things with this team. And we will ensure they have the resources necessary to give them the highest level of preparation.”

The 52-year-old Postecoglou announced his shock resignation from the Socceroos in November, weeks after guiding Australia through a lengthy qualifying campaign for Russia.

As coach of Saudi Arabia, Van Marwijk beat Australia into second place in its Asian qualifying group. Australia went on to qualify by beating Honduras in an inter-continental playoff.