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Dutch model has failed Australia: Ex-AIS Coach

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Football Federation Australia’s decision to go Dutch after qualifying for the 2006 World Cup isn’t producing players good enough to play for the Socceroos, says former Australian Institute of Sport soccer program chief Steve O’Connor.

O’Connor oversaw the development of the likes of Lucas Neill, Mark Viduka, Luke Wilkshire, Brett Emerton, Josh Kennedy, Mark Bresciano and Craig Moore.

That group made up the bulk of the sides that have qualified for the last three World Cups and came through during his 15 years in the role in Canberra.

The AIS program was effectively ended when the FFA decided to follow the Dutch model to produce young players, with Han Berger hired in 2008 as technical director and overseeing development of the country’s best youngsters.

”I am [a] fan of the way the Dutch play football and I am a big fan of the way they do certain things,” O’Connor said. ”But I don’t think you can import systems wholesale from one country to another and expect it to work. There are the ways the Dutch do things, the Germans, the French and they have been very successful.

”But there are all different reasons for that. The size of population, country and the fact it is easier to get players to play against top-class opponents.

”In Australia we are not a football country, but we have always produced good players who have had great international careers and played for big European clubs.

”We are not seeing those types of players coming through unfortunately. Players who are good not just physically but technically.”

O’Connor fell out with the FFA and left the AIS in 2008 after he and other home-bred coaches were marginalised for questioning some decisions that were being made.

He now works as the technical director of the Hong Kong FA after leaving his job as the Sydney FC youth team coach in 2011.

The FFA has announced that Berger will leave his role when his contract expires in July next year, with former Socceroo Luke Casserly appointed to a new position as head of national performance.

© 2013 The Age| This article first appeared in the The Age on 18 October 2013.

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