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 By John Duerden

Bert van Marwijk turns down Saudi Arabia return for World Cup

2010 World Cup finalist Bert Van Marwijk has rejected what would have been a dramatic return to Saudi Arabia just two months after leaving his post as head coach of the national team.

The Dutchman, appointed in Sept. 2015, guided the Green Falcons through qualification for the 2018 World Cup in September, but within days had been released by the Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF).

He was immediately replaced by Edgardo Bauza of Argentina. After Bauza was fired on Wednesday following poor performances in five friendly games, Van Marwijk told Voetbal International that he had been approached.

"I only want to start this assignment if I think we can achieve success at the World Cup. It does not make sense in this way," Van Marwijk said.

According to reports in September, the 65-year-old was released as he refused to accept changes made to his coaching staff. He was also reluctant to base himself in Saudi Arabia in the months leading up to Russia 2018.

Edgardo Bauza suffered three losses in five friendly games in charge of Saudi Arabia.

The same stumbling blocks remain for the man who guided Holland to the 2010 World Cup final against Spain.

"Two months ago...we could not meet a number of requirements regarding the composition of staff," Van Marwijk said. "I have been approached tonight and I have the same requirements. The federation does not want to meet those again. Then it is simple for me."

Bauza fired by Argentina in April after just eight months in the job, took over the United Arab Emirates national team in May, only to be poached by Saudi Arabia.

With three losses in five friendly games against Portugal, Bulgaria and Ghana, and criticism of the team's performance, he was fired.

The SAFF is looking to fill the post before the draw for the 2018 World Cup is held on Dec. 1.

Van Marwijk is not the only high-profile boss to turn down the federation. According to reports in Saudi Arabia, Spain's 2010 World Cup winning coach Vicente del Bosque has said no.

Other reported names in the running are Luiz Felipe Scolari, Guus Hiddink, Ramon Diaz, Nasser Al-Johar, Gheorghe Hagi, Roberto Mancini and Michel Preud'homme.

Asian expert John Duerden is the author of Lions and Tigers: Story of Football in Singapore and Malaysia.Twitter: @JohnnyDuerden.

 

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