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Australia indebted to Hiddink

Published: Wednesday 16 November 2005, 18.40CET
PSV Eindhoven coach Guus Hiddink has guided Australia to the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals after a dramatic finish to today's play-off against Uruguay.

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Published: Wednesday 16 November 2005, 18.40CET

Australia indebted to Hiddink

PSV Eindhoven coach Guus Hiddink has guided Australia to the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals after a dramatic finish to today's play-off against Uruguay.
PSV Eindhoven coach Guus Hiddink has guided Australia to the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals after a 4-2 penalty shoot-out success in today's play-off against Uruguay.

Instant success
The 59-year-old replaced Frank Farina in charge of the Socceroos in July on a part-time basis in tandem with his role at the Dutch champions. "We only had a few weeks together, it wasn't very long," he said during the celebrations in Sydney. "But this is a great bunch of guys, they really wanted this and worked hard for it."

Three in a row
Hiddink has taken two other nations to the World Cup semi-finals. His first success came with the Netherlands in 1998 before he led the host nation Korean Republic to glory four years later. He will also be the third coach from the Netherlands in Germany, scene of Australia's only other World Cup appearance in 1974, alongside Marco van Basten and Dick Advocaat, who are at the Dutch and Korean helms respectively.

Aloisi the hero
Hiddink relied heavily on European-based players for the tie, as did Uruguay, which proved to be the first time penalties had decided a World Cup place. Deportivo Alavés striker John Aloisi scored the decisive spot-kick after Middlesbrough FC goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer had saved efforts from FC Schalke 04 defender Darío Rodríguez and Juventus forward Marcelo Zalayeta.

All square
Uruguay had travelled to Australia with a 1-0 lead from Saturday's first leg but Parma FC's Marco Bresciano wiped out that advantage in the 34th minute. However, there was to be no further scoring despite extra time, meaning the fans packed into the Telstra stadium were to get another dramatic conclusion to a qualification campaign, after missing out for the 2002 finals in a play-off against the same South American side.

Millions watching
"We've been dreaming of this for 32 years," said Aloisi. "You couldn't ask for a better finish, with 83,000 people here to watch us and 20 million people in Australia following us. I just can't believe it." Uruguay, World Cup winners in 1930 and 1950, will have to wait until qualifying for South Africa in 2010 for their next chance to shine on the world stage.

Last updated: 16/11/05 22.42CET

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