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Hiddink appointed new Netherlands coach

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – Guus Hiddink will take over as Netherlands coach after the World Cup, when Louis van Gaal is stepping down, the country's football association announced on Friday.

Hiddink will lead the Netherlands until the end of the 2016 European Championship in France and then be replaced by Danny Blind.

Blind and former Manchester United and Real Madrid striker Ruud van Nistelrooy were appointed as 67-year-old Hiddink's assistants.

Hiddink said he was honored to return for a second stint in charge after he led a talented young Dutch team to the World Cup semifinals in France in 1998, when it lost on penalties to Brazil.

``With Danny Blind and Ruud van Nistelrooy, we have a strong team with a huge amount of football knowledge and experience,'' Hiddink said in a statement. ``It is also a fantastic chance for me to prepare my own successors. In this way, the football vision of the Netherlands team can be preserved for the long term.''

Netherlands association director Bert van Oostveen lauded Hiddink as a coach with a treasure trove of international experience and success.

``He has proved his skills as a coach for club and country,'' he said.

Hiddink coached the Netherlands from 1995-98. He also led South Korea to an unexpected semifinal berth in the 2002 World Cup and guided an unheralded Russia to the last four of Euro 2008.

Hiddink has coached a string of club teams including PSV Eindhoven, Real Madrid and Chelsea.

He led PSV to three successive Dutch league titles from 1987-89, three straight Dutch Cup wins from 1988-90 and the European Cup in 1988. Returning to Eindhoven after the 2002 World Cup, he again won three national titles, briefly combining his work with PSV with coaching Australia, which he led to World Cup qualification in 2006 _ the first time in 32 years Australia reached football's greatest stage.

After that World Cup, Hiddink was hired by Russia and took the team to the semifinals of Euro 2008, knocking out the Netherlands in the quarterfinals.

He briefly served as interim manager at Chelsea, leading the London club to FA Cup glory in 2010.