Dutchman Bert van Marwijk has signed a one-year deal to become Saudi Arabia’s new head coach.
Former Argentina boss Alejandro Sabella had been widely expected to take up the post following the recent departure of Faisal Al Baden but turned the offer down, prompting the Saudi FA to approach van Marwijk.
The 63-year-old, who guided the Netherlands to the 2010 World Cup final and won the KNVB Cup during his time with Feyenoord, is determined to help guide Saudi Arabia to the 2018 World Cup in Russia to end their 12-year absence from the tournament.
“I have declined quite a few offers in recent years,” he said. “The big difference this time was that I was given the freedom to set my own staff.
“It is a great challenge and I hope I can help the team with my experience further towards Russia.
“Saudi Arabia is a major power in Asia, which unfortunately has not qualified for too long for a major tournament.
“We are now trying to change that.”
Van Marwijk has opted to recruit compatriots Adrie Koster, Mark van Bommel and Roel Coumans as his backroom staff and he becomes the fifth Dutchman to have coached the Saudi national side, following in the footsteps of Leo Beenhakker, Gerard van der Lem, Martin Koopman and Frank Rijkaard.
The new management team will travel to Jeddah next weekend ahead of Saudi Arabia’s next World Cup qualifying game against East Timor on September 3.
UAE, Malaysia and Palestine make up the rest of the Saudis’ qualifying group
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