Football: Guus Hiddink ends second spell in charge of Dutch national team

Guus Hiddink has stepped down as Netherlands coach after just 10 matches in charge.
Guus Hiddink has stepped down as Netherlands coach after just 10 matches in charge.PHOTO: AFP

THE HAGUE (AFP/REUTERS) - Under-pressure Netherlands coach Guus Hiddink, whose side have struggled in qualifying for the 2016 European Championships, has stepped down, the Dutch football federation (KNVB) announced on Monday.

The 68-year-old, who was in his second stint with the Oranje and less than one year into the role, hands over to assistant Danny Blind with the Dutch third in their 2016 Euro qualifying group.

Said KNVB director of football Bert van Oostveen: "I regret this decision. Unfortunately the rewards of Guus's work weren't immediately visible to everyone, we thank Guus for his commitment."

With four matches remaining, Holland are third in qualifying Group A with 10 points, three points behind the Czech Republic and five adrift of surprise leaders Iceland.

Only the top two and the best third-placed side from the nine groups qualify automatically, leaving the Dutch to face the possibility of a play-off tie to win a spot at next year's championship in France.

Hiddink, who oversaw four wins and five defeats in 10 games since returning for a second spell as Dutch coach last summer, said in a statement: "It was an honour to be the national coach again and I wish my successor and all the staff every success on the road to Euro 2016."

The much-travelled Hiddink has delivered some mediocre results and been heavily criticised since taking over from Manchester United-bound Louis van Gaal in August. Van Gaal had guided the team to finish third at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Hiddink's team lost to Czech Republic and Iceland in September and October last year and also dropped points at home to Turkey in March.

He was questioned by reporters in recent months over an apparent failure to forge the special bonds with his players that he had in the past.

Hiddink, who has also coached a host of top clubs including Real Madrid and Chelsea, responded by saying the negative reaction was disproportionate. The Dutch reached the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup in France during his first spell in charge.