Soccer-Kluivert steps in for Hiddink as Curacao coach


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Africa Cup of Nations 2019 - Group F - Cameroon v Ghana - Ismailia Stadium, Ismailia, Egypt - June 29, 2019 Cameroon assistant coach Patrick Kluivert applauds fans after the match. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/File Photo

WILLEMSTAD (Reuters) - Patrick Kluivert is to step in as acting coach for Curacao in World Cup qualification next month, with Guus Hiddink ruled out as he recovers from COVID-19, the country’s football association said.

Former Dutch international Kluivert, who leaves his job as Barcelona’s youth development head in July, will replace Hiddink for matches away against the British Virgin islands on June 5 and then home to Guatemala four days later.

If Curacao win the two matches, they advance to the second stage of CONCACAF qualification for next year’s finals in Qatar, where they will meet either the Dominican Republic or Panama in a two-legged elimination tie on June 12 and 15.

Hiddink, appointed last year to help the Caribbean island nation in their bid to qualify for a first World cup, is expected to be back in charge for July’s Concacaf Gold Cup, where the autonomous Dutch territory meet El Salvador, Mexico and a yet to be determined qualifier in Texas.

The 74-year-old Hiddink is recovering from COVID-19 infection and asked that Kluivert, who was Curacao’s coach for two years from 2015-16, stand in for him, a statement from the Federashon Futbol Korsou said.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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