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07.11.2004 Football News

Troussier Prefers Wales

By Peter Shuttleworth, Wales

PHILIPPE TROUSSIER has broken his silence to reveal his determination to become the next manager of Wales.

The 49-year-old Frenchman is the first of the four remaining candidates to break ranks and discuss his desire to succeed Mark Hughes at the helm of Welsh football.

The job has been vacant since Hughes left for Premiership strugglers Blackburn last month after five years in charge. Home-grown rivals John Toshack and Dean Saunders have so far declined to discuss their applications in public.

While former Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier would only give a terse "no comment" when contacted by Wales on Sunday.

In contrast Troussier, who until now was deemed an outsider for the post, has decided to up the ante by going public on his desire to succeed Sparky.

The former national boss of Nigeria and Japan and South Africa has been heavily linked with a return to Africa to take charge of Ghana but said: "Yes I want the job of managing Wales.

"It is a great honour to be one of the candidates. I'm very happy and very motivated.

"My plan is to be the leader of a strong technical policy for the future of Welsh football.

"I want to put in place a strong policy for the next five or six years.

"That means focusing the policy on the next European Championships and then dream for a ticket to the next World Cup in South Africa."

Troussier is due to be interviewed for the post at a secret location on Thursday along with the other three candidates. Wales legend Ian Rush and former Dutch manager Dick Advocaat both withdrew from the managerial race in midweek.

But the FAW interview panel cannot fail to be impressed by Troussier's impressive coaching CV.

Nicknamed the "White Witch Doctor" for his coaching work in Africa, Troussier guided Nigeria through the qualifying campaign for the 1998 World Cup only to be sacked before it kicked off.

Instead he took charge of South Africa for the finals themselves before steering joint-hosts Japan to the second phase of the 2002 World Cup four years later.

"I have more than 200 international matches at the highest level," Troussier told BBC Wales.

"I am used to doing this job.

"To be a national coach is completely different to being a club coach. Of course I have my advantages and my disadvantages.

"I think Toshack and Gerard Houllier are the same.

"I am very optimistic about my chances. I am not afraid. I have my plan, my philosophy, my ideas and I would like to defend that in front of the board of the FA.

"I have worked outside my country for more than 15 years and I have a lot of experience at the top table.

"I have participated in the World Cup, Olympic games and the African Cup of Nations cup and also the top job at two clubs but now I think it is time to go back to Europe.

"This kind of challenge is a big one for me and I am very motivated to get the job."

Chester boss Rush has called for the appointment of a manager who is able to link together Welsh football at all age levels.

He may have been talking about his friend and mentor Houllier but Troussier says he also fits the bill.

"I have done this kind of job, especially during my last experience in Japan," he said.

"I was manager of three age categories, under-20, under-23 at the Olympic games and the senior team.

"I think it was very important to start a programme, to talk the same language, to organise the central philosophy for everyone.

"Wales is a very nice challenge. We have nothing to lose.

"When I worked in Africa with Nigeria it was the same approach.

"It was a small country with no trophies but everyone was happy to learn and to do their best.

Troussier has been close to a return to Europe in the past having been named on the short list to replace Craig Brown in Scotland two years ago and also being considered to coach the Republic of Ireland.

But despite his stated desire to take charge of Wales his name is still firmly in the frame in Ghana with some reports even claiming he is in the advanced stages of negotiating a deal.

The Ghana Football Association (GSA) is expected to name a four man short list tomorrow.

GFA vice-chairman Kwesi Nyantekyi said: "Philippe Troussier is being considered as our new manager."

But other reports claim Troussier has already been approached to take charge of the team and has accepted, pending negotiation of terms.

FAW officials expect to make a quick decision on the man they want following the interviews.

A meeting of the full FAW Council will then be called - possibly as early as the following week - to rubber-stamp the appointment. However a second round of interviews has not yet been ruled out.

Houllier's chances of landing the job were boosted last night after it was revealed he received a £4m pay-off after being sacked by Liverpool in May.

Privately FAW officials had voiced fears they could not afford the Frenchman's services.

But his staggering Anfield compensation package means Houllier may now be willing to accept the £250,000 salary on offer from Wales.

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