Let's face it, Russia's failure to make the World Cup 2010 - mainly, I feel, due to complacency on the part of the players - was a surprise. Most of all to me.
I've always backed sides managed by Guus Hiddink to do well and, frankly, he's made me a lot of money down the years by always coming through when I've bet on his teams.
His management of South Korea ahead of the 2002 World Cup Finals was a masterclass for any international manager. What he did was take a worse than mediocre side and turn them into a competitive team.
Because South Korea had no competitive games before the 2002 Finals, Hiddink lined up a succession of friendly matches over a period of eighteen months against teams from around the world.
After drubbings by France and the Czech Republic among others, by the time the 2002 World Cup Finals rolled around, they were hammering Scotland and drawing with England.
And, of course, he steered Australia to the second round in 2006 and got Russia through to the Euro 2008 finals at the expense of England.
Having left his post as Russia manager, Hiddink has already, very wisely, turned down an approach from North Korea to manage them at South Africa 2010. But, it appears the Dutchman may be interested in taking over coaching duties with Nigeria
Interestingly, Nigeria's World Cup group includes his old side South Korea, but - if he takes the job - you would definitely back Hiddink to get Nigeria through to the second round and possibly the quarter finals.
Labels: australia, guus hiddink, nigeria, south korea