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Frenchman Gerard Houllier has emerged as the prime candidate to become Australian national coach after July's Asian Cup, press reports said yesterday.
Sydney's Sunday Telegraph newspaper, citing Football Federation Australia (FFA) sources, said Lyon's coach Houllier was expected to land the Australian job on a part-time basis similar to the deal cut with 2006 World Cup boss Dutchman Guus Hiddink.
Hiddink coached PSV Eindhoven while working with the Socceroos.
Houllier's contract with Lyon ends this season but he is believed to want to continue in the same role but with a clause allowing him to be in charge of Australia's internationals, the newspaper said. FFA chief executive Ben Buckley has denied the newspaper's claims.
"We've had discussions with some candidates but nothing has eventuated and we're quite a while away from narrowing it down to one person," Buckley told The Sunday Telegraph.
"We're going through an extensive process and we're developing a list of suitable candidates.
"Ideally, we would like someone full-time so they could be totally dedicated to the role."
The newspaper said former Liverpool manager Houllier is expected to join interim national coach Graham Arnold for Australia's Asian Cup campaign in Thailand in an advisory role. Houllier was on the FFA's wish list after Hiddink left the Australian job to coach Russia last year, it said.
Arnold is reportedly fielding offers from Dutch club Roda JC. A Dutch newspaper also reported that the former Socceroos striker had rejected the NAC Breda coach job for this season.
Arnold was in Dubai with the Australian Olympic team this weekend and could not be contacted, the Sunday Telegraph said. - Sapa-AFP