By Mikael Erävuori in Helsinki
Finland are set to appoint Englishman Roy Hodgson as their new coach as they look beyond the 2006 FIFA World Cup to the 2008 UEFA European Championship.
The 58-year-old Hodgson is working at Viking FK in Norway but has agreed a deal to take charge of the Finnish national team from June 2006, after being given approval by his club. "I wanted to come back into international football, where I can pick the best players from a country," said Hodgson, who will sign after concluding personal terms.
The former FC Internazionale Milano and Blackburn Rovers FC coach first came to international prominence when he led Switzerland to the 1994 World Cup finals. Football Association of Finland president Pekka Hämäläinen said: "We have reached an agreement with Viking and they will get compensation."
World Cup campaign
The Finnish post became vacant in June when long-serving coach Antti Muurinen was sacked. Jyrki Heliskoski was installed on an interim basis with the aim of seeing out the rest of the World Cup qualifying campaign. Finland, who play F.Y.R. Macedonia tomorrow night, are fourth in Group 1 and out of the running for next year's finals.
Heliskoski said: "Hodgson is a good coach and
I believe he is a good choice for Finnish football." Hodgson has plenty of experience working in Scandinavian football, having won the Swedish championship with Halmstads BK in 1979 and Malmö FF in 1988. In 2001, he guided FC København to the Danish title.
Additional reporting by Eivind Aarre
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