China’s soccer federation announced Monday it has appointed Dutch coach Guus Hiddink to lead the country’s under-21 team to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
The 71 year-old, who took the senior Netherlands and South Korean teams to the World Cup semifinals in 1998 and 2002 respectively, joins senior national team coach Marcello Lippi on the payroll of the Chinese Football Association (CFA).
Hiddink, who has coached Real Madrid and Chelsea as well as Russia, Turkey and Australia, has a tough job on his hands to take China to the Olympics despite his experience in Asia.
The country has never qualified for the tournament with its sole appearance coming in 2008 when Beijing hosted the games. Hiddink, who had been linked with the national team jobs in Colombia and the Netherlands, is under no illusions about the size of the task.
“There is still a lot of work to do,” Hiddink said in an interview with Dutch media after watching the team perform in a recent friendly tournament.
“To be honest, there were only four or five players in China who I thought: `Yes, they are usable.’ The rest came physically, tactically, conditionally and technically pretty short.”
To take China to Tokyo would rank alongside many achievements in Hiddink’s long career.
With Japan hosting, there are only three spots available for Asian teams at the 2020 Olympic Games and those places come through the Asia U23 Championship in January 2020. Qualification for that tournament takes place next March.
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Frank de Boer’s stay in Milan could only be described as short, but one of the game’s veteran managers is now reportedly considering taking over at the San Siro.
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The Daily Mail is reporting that Guus Hiddink is mulling a move to Italy to coach Inter Milan after De Boer was let let go following a 14-match stint with the club.
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Hiddink, 69, has been out of a job since leaving Chelsea at the end of the 2015/16 Premier League campaign. The Dutchman reportedly had lunch with now-Blues manager Antonio Conte on Thursday as part of a visit to Stamford Bridge, where he continues to have close contact with several of the players and staff.
While Stefano Pioli is still seen as the favorite to take over the Italian giants, Hiddink has one of soccer’s best resumes and will surely be considered for the job in the event that he is interested in accepting the position.
According to the Daily Mail, Inter’s Chinese owners Suning Group are big supporters of Hiddink and see the Dutchman as a short-term replacement until the club can find a permanent manager down the road.
Guus Hiddink is preparing for his final match in charge of Chelsea on Sunday when the Blues host champions Leicester City (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on CNBC and online via Live Extra).
The Dutchman took over for Jose Mourinho in December, his second stint as interim manager at Stamford Bridge after finishing the 2008-09 season on the touchline following the dismissal of Luiz Felipe Scolari.
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In both spells Hiddink excelled, winning the FA Cup in 2009 and leading the Blues from 16th place to the top half of the table this season. However, the club announced Hiddink would not be retained next season, instead opting to hire Italian international coach Antonio Conte.
Speaking to the press ahead of the Leicester match, Hiddink said it will be an emotional goodbye at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
I will be emotional on Sunday because in the two spells here the passion towards football was already there, but the affection for the club has grown.
The recent memory of playing at Anfield was a pleasant one because the team played as I love them to. That’s the way Chelsea can play and should play.
Of course after the escape from near the relegation zone I would have loved to reach the FA Cup final and go one or two games further in the Champions League but we couldn’t fulfill that. But I’m happy with the last half-year, I did it with a lot of joy.
We must face facts; by Chelsea’s standards it’s been a season with exception. It’s not enough for Chelsea. It’s now relatively quiet at the club but we have to go on and be competitive next season.
Hiddink has been a faithful servant to Chelsea, coming in during difficult times and always putting the club ahead of himself. In both spells his work was worthy of a contract extension, but he was willing to walk away and allow the club to move forward in a different direction.
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It will be a great atmosphere at the Bridge on Monday, as Chelsea supporters say goodbye to Hiddink while also honoring Claudio Ranieri, the former Blues’ boss who is now a Premier League champion with Leicester.
The dust has settled after an insane London Derby finish between Tottenham and Chelsea, one which has been on the back burner thanks to the 2-2 draw handing Leicester its unlikely title.
So, looking back, wow! Twelve yellow cards set the tone for a post-match fracas with Diego Costa and Michel Vorm at the center. Watch the video above, as men became boys again.
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In the fray, Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink ends up on the ground despite his best intentions of playing peacemaker. And both the manager and Spurs defender Danny Rose were left questioning the fray.
From the BBC:
HIDDINK: “Everyone started dancing around and pushing around. More people became involved and we shuffled around. You must not have these type of incidents but it happens and at the end we must all calm down.”
The Dutchman also played down the incident that saw him pushed to the floor, adding: “If you have done some judo and wrestling you can easily fall. Even at my age, I had no problem to fall down.”
ROSE: “It is not nice to see for kids here or kids watching on TV, I apologise if it looked bad on TV,” said Rose.
“It is a London derby. It is to be expected. We wanted to win and they wanted to stop us having any more say in the title race.”
Forget the kids, Danny: The ruckus could’ve set the table for London Derby problems outside the ground. Things happen, for sure, and the end of that match on the pitch was pretty bonkers. Let’s be grateful nothing came of it (besides inevitable suspensions).
The role of spoiler isn’t one relished by Chelsea.
The Premier League giants are used to clinching Top Four berths with three matches to spare, not waking rivals from their title dreams.
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That’s what Chelsea will hope to do Monday when Spurs visit Stamford Bridge, but manager Guus Hiddink says the Blues will be back in the title hunt next season.
And the 69-year-old Dutchman isn’t worried about reinforcements being attracted to the London club.
“Chelsea cannot afford to have two or three seasons like this one, but I think the appeal for players to go to Chelsea is still there,” he said. ‘”I think Tottenham can go and compete next year in the same way, but I think Chelsea will re-erect for next year as well.
“This is still a big club – one year, you can have what we are experiencing now and that is why the challenge can be great for players to come here. Chelsea is still a big name and the club has to go again for the next season.”
Will a year without UEFA Champions League scare big names off from joining the Blues? It certainly seems likely for top tier talent, but money does talk.