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Scolari back in the game for clubs or countries

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Scolari back in the game for clubs or countries

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By Andrew Downie

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Three-and-a-half years after watching his Brazil side suffer the most embarrassing result in their history, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is itching for a new challenge, and the World Cup or English Premier League are among his preferred destinations.

The former Brazil, Portugal and Chelsea coach has just ended a two-and-a-half year stint in China with Guangzhou Evergrande.

The 69-year old told Reuters he has been sounded out this year about jobs with Chile, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, but it is the vacant Australia position that currently interests him.

"I am one of the names they spoke with... to see if I was interested in taking them to the World Cup," Scolari told Reuters in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

"They can probably hire someone in February. So if they are interested they will call my agent and we'll discuss it."

"But I don't intend in just taking a team to the World Cup," he added. "I intend on leading a team with an organised project for one or two years. But I am interested."

The Socceroos have been without a coach since Ange Postecoglou resigned after getting them past Honduras in an intercontinental playoff for Russia last month.

They were then drawn in Group C against France, Peru and Denmark.

Scolari, who is back in Brazil to resolve personal issues over the Christmas period, wants to get back into management after a successful spell in China, where he took Guangzhou Evergrande to three consecutive league titles, beating managers such as Sven-Goran Eriksson, Manuel Pellegrini and Andre Villas-Boas in the process.

He is open to offers from clubs sides, and would particularly like another crack at the Premier League, eight years after his spell at Chelsea was aborted only seven months into the job.

But his most solid offers so far have come from national teams.

Scolari told Reuters he rebuffed advances from at least four countries this year, but none of them were going to the World Cup and he refused to discuss any deal while still employed in China.

"I had an offer from Saudi Arabia," he said. "I had an invite from Chile just recently. The Asian countries, such as United Arab Emirates, Qatar, sounded me out but I was under contract.

"I waited for the right moment to say, OK, now I don't have a contract and I am receptive to invites and we'll look at them and we see what might happen."

HIGHS AND LOWS

Known by everyone in Brazil as Felipao, or Big Phil, Scolari has enjoyed a long and colourful career in management with both clubs and countries.

He has coached in Brazil, England, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and China, and he took Portugal to the finals of the 2004 European Championship and semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup.

But he will be most remembered for the highs and lows with Brazil.

A Scolari-led team featuring Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Robert Carlos won the World Cup in Japan in 2002, giving Brazil a record fifth world title.

But a return to the helm 10 years later was less successful. After winning the Confederations Cup in 2013, they were favourites to lift a sixth title on home soil a year later.

However, they were demolished 7-1 by Germany in the semi-finals in what was the most embarrassing defeat in their history.

That result will never go away but Scolari – who sits behind only German coach Helmut Schoen in terms of total World Cup victories – is determined to look forward, not back.

"We wanted to win the World Cup at home," he said, obviously weary at still having to discuss that result.

"We lost. So obviously we were sad and there is going to a repercussion for the rest of our lives, just as in 2002 when we were champions. That's normal. But life goes on."

(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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