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Verbeek wants to be own man

The 51-year-old Dutchman was appointed on Thursday ahead of February's opening qualifiers against Qatar, China and Asian Cup champions Iraq.

sports Updated: Dec 08, 2007 18:03 IST

Pim Verbeek has vowed to be his own man and not a pale imitation of predecessor Guus Hiddink as he takes over Australia's campaign to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The 51-year-old Dutchman was appointed on Thursday ahead of February's opening qualifiers against Qatar, China and Asian Cup champions Iraq.

Hiddink has left a daunting legacy by steering Australia to their first World Cup finals in 32 years where they reached the second round in Germany last year, losing to eventual winners Italy 1-0 through a last-minute penalty.

But Verbeek, who was an assistant to Hiddink with the South Korean national side at the 2002 World Cup, is keen to make his own mark with the Socceroos.

"No, I am a different person, I am more a coach who is involved in coaching and training than Guus did," Verbeek told Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper Saturday.

"Guus worked more from the outside. I have to learn about the players and maybe that's easier from beside the pitch.

"But my character is to be involved, I like to coach. I am who I am - I think I know how to inspire the players and get results because I've worked with the best coaches in the world.

"But I cannot copy them. I have learned from the way they manage players and get results. That's why I am here. I am fit and young and wanting to be part of what's happening in Australia."

Verbeek said he was keen to signal his appointment was a fresh start, not continuing someone else's pioneering.

"It's about my philosophy of building up a team, the problems you can expect playing in Asia, it's a different world," he said.

"The home games, OK you have to win those but also the away games with all the heat. So I told them (the FFA) my ideas, how to handle players, building up teams."

Verbeek must also win over a dressing room of stars from the English Premier League and around Europe to keep them disciplined yet also persuade them to make the sacrifices playing for Australia involves.

"That's the challenge, if everything was predictable and you could take it from a book, well, that's not what we're in it for," he said.

"To manage people, where one player needs kicking and one needs supporting, that's what makes coaching interesting.

"It would have been much easier to stay with Korea (who he coached at the Asian Cup) as I knew every player from 15 to 35. Here I have to start all over again.

"That's why Graham Arnold and technical director Rob Baan will be so important for me with their information, but in the end the responsibility will always be with me to pick the best team for a particular game.

"In the end I'm the only one who's responsible."

Verbeek has returned home to the Netherlands to tidy up his affairs before jetting into Sydney on Thursday, just in time to catch the last round of the Australian A-League before the Christmas break.