Australia coach Graham Arnold insisted Guus Hiddink’s stint as his assistant during the 1-0 win over New Zealand in Brisbane on Thursday was a one-off and the Dutchman will not be working alongside him at the World Cup finals in Qatar.
Hiddink, an icon in Australia after qualifying the nation for the World Cup in 2006 to break a 32-year finals absence, sat on the bench for the victory in the Socceroos’ final game in front of their own fans before November’s tournament.
The 75-year-old former Netherlands and Real Madrid coach filled in for regular assistant Rene Meulensteen as part of centenary celebrations for Australia’s first international and Arnold stressed that would be the limit of his involvement.
“It’s for the 100-year celebration, that’s all,” he said.
“He’s made a big sacrifice to come out. My assistant’s watching France and Denmark now and Guus has come out to help with the 100-year celebration. He wanted to be part of it and that’s it.”
Hiddink witnessed a disjointed performance from Arnold’s side as they prepared for their World Cup meetings with defending champions France, Denmark and Tunisia.
Spain-based winger Awer Mabil scored the only goal of the game from distance 13 minutes before the interval and Arnold admitted his team needed to improve going into the finals.
“We changed the way that we played and we tried to press them really high with the three front boys,” he said. “Our chances came from that.
“We won’t play anywhere near that open. We were pressing high and leaving space and that’s what I wanted. I wanted a physical game, a game that the boys were pretty much man-on-man all over the pitch and a physical battle. We got that.
“I wanted to see how fit they are. Some of them are not playing at clubs, not getting as much game time.
“It’s hard to go from training and not playing and all of a sudden doing what I’m asking them to do. So I take that responsibility.”