Guus Hiddink on the Socceroos bench for the friendly match against New Zealand


BRISBANE, Australia – A blast from the past will be on the bench for Australia when the World Cup-ready Socceroos take on New Zealand in a friendly on Thursday – former coach Guus Hiddink.

Hiddink will act as assistant to head coach Graham Arnold for the match in Brisbane in a role reversal of the team’s journey to the last 16 of the World Cup in Germany in 2006, when Australia lost to future champions Italy 1-0.

“I got a call from Arnie. It was not a question. He said: ‘I want you to come,'” the now-retired Dutch coach told the media on Wednesday. “Without a doubt for a second I said, ‘I’m coming’. “

This will be Australia’s last home game before the start of the November tournament in Qatar. The Socceroos will also face New Zealand in Auckland on Sunday.

Arnold and HIddink swapped stories and cracked jokes during a 30-minute press conference on Wednesday, with Arnold keen to see some of the Socceroos’ golden generation rub off on his team.

“I just had this crazy thought one night to bring back a guy who mentored me and helped me so much in my life and my career,” Arnold said. “We need the best (players) and I know that with Guus’ eye for talent and the way he speaks to players, in this camp he can be a real bonus.”

Hiddink, who also took South Korea to the 2002 World Cup semi-finals, urged the Aussies to “play attacking football” in World Cup Group D matches against France, Tunisia and Denmark. Australia play France on November 23, Tunisia on November 26 and Denmark on December 1.

Australia qualified for a fifth consecutive World Cup in the qualifying finals after a penalty shoot-out win over Peru in Qatar in June.

“You tell great stories from the past, but there’s always a connection to the present and that’s why I think I can help in the few days I’m here,” Hiddink said.

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