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South Africa the target as Burley takes charge of Scotland

Burley had been managing Southampton but he revealed that he had no hesitation about leaving the Championship club to succeed Alex McLeish.

sports Updated: Jan 24, 2008 21:55 IST

George Burley was on Thursday appointed as the new manager of Scotland and immediately set his sights on leading his country to the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

Burley had been managing Southampton but he revealed that he had no hesitation about leaving the Championship club to succeed Alex McLeish.

"It's something you want to do, given the opportunity," he said. "I never thought it would ever happen - when Scotland showed interest there were so many outstanding candidates with huge experience.

"But it's something I'm really looking forward to and I feel I'm ready for it."

The 51-year-old beat off competition for the post from Motherwell manager Mark McGhee, Celtic assistant coach Tommy Burns and former Rangers and Liverpool boss Graeme Souness.

His appointment was made official on Thursday after the final details of his personal terms were agreed. Burley has signed a contract which gives the Scottish Football Association an option on his services up to and including the finals of Euro 2012.

"I will certainly be here for the next campaign, then we'll look at it after the World Cup," he said. "I've got a contract, if the SFA want to do it, until 2012.

"I'm fully committed, my one thought at the moment is the next two-and-a-half years. Let's go for it, two, two-and-a-half years, can we qualify for the World Cup? That's my aim."

McLeish resigned in late November to take over at English Premier League side Birmingham City having led Scotland to the brink of the Euro 2008 finals from a qualifying group that included both France and Italy.

His successor will aim to build on that campaign by leading the Scots to South Africa. To do that directly Scotland must finish top of a qualifying group that includes Holland and Norway. A second-placed finish would give them a chance of reaching the finals via a play-off.

"It is a tough group. Holland are going to be the favourites but it's certainly possible. The form of the team showed in the rankings," said Burley.

"It's key that we keep improving. You can't always stand still, you have got to look to get better."

Burley added: "As a Scotsman you've got a vision to do well for your country. This job gives the opportunity to try to do something, to try to get to the World Cup finals, and as a manager you couldn't ask for more than that.

"There are tingles going through me of excitement, thinking about it."

Burley's first match in charge will be a friendly against Croatia on March 26 with his first competitive fixture a trip to Macedonia for a 2010 qualifier in September.

Burley is a former Scotland defender who spent much of his playing career in England with Ipswich, where he made over 500 appearances.

He also played for Sunderland, Gillingham, Motherwell and Falkirk before beginning his his coaching career as a player-manager with Ayr in 1991.

He moved on to Colchester in 1994 before becoming boss at Ipswich, Derby, Hearts and Southampton respectively.

As a manager, he has acquired a reputation for being good at getting the best out of individual players and getting his teams to play a passing game -- something which the current Scotland captain, Barry Ferguson, welcomed.

The Rangers midfielder was impressed by the way Burley led Hearts to the top of the Scottish Premier League in 2005 before a disagreement with majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov led to his shock departure.

"There was no doubt he transformed the whole club during that short spell in charge," Ferguson said. "He also comes across as a real football person.

"He likes his teams to get the ball down and play it on the deck. In my mind that's the right way to play. We certainly have the players for that style."