THE HAGUE: Guus Hiddink officially took over as coach of the Netherlands yesterday and promised to build on the good work done by predecessor Louis van Gaal, who took the Oranje to third place at the World Cup.
“There will not be many changes,” said Hiddink at a press conference as he returned for his second spell in charge of Holland after a three-year stint in the 1990s, in which he led them to the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup.
He indicated that Robin van Persie is likely to remain as captain and that Arjen Robben will probably continue in his role as vice-captain.
Hiddink’s contract runs through to the end of the 2016 European Championship in France, after which he will be replaced by current assistant Danny Blind.
“I felt great enthusiasm on starting my first official day of work today,” added Hiddink, who praised his new charges for their excellent showing at the World Cup in Brazil, when their only defeat came on penalties to Argentina in the semi-finals.
“First and foremost, bravo to the team, both the players and the technical staff who worked under Louis van Gaal,” he said.
Van Gaal, who is now in charge at Manchester United, had been widely criticised by the Dutch press prior to the World Cup as they accused him of turning his back on the traditional Dutch style of attacking football.
But his new counter-attacking system, with three central defenders, took Holland further than expected after they began their campaign with a stunning 5-1 victory against the holders Spain.
Hiddink indicated that he wished to keep faith in the ‘Dutch school’ while also hoping to maintain the “instinct of survival” instilled in the team by van Gaal.
The 67 year old also took South Korea to fourth place at the 2002 World Cup before spells in charge of Russia, Turkey and Australia.
He had been out of coaching work since leaving Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala in July last year.