Australia have made tentative contact with Dutchman Guus Hiddink about the national team coaching job left vacant by the sacking of Holger Osieck, Football Federation Australia (FFA) chief executive David Gallop said on Sunday.
Osieck was sacked after Australia were hammered by France in Paris on Friday, the second time in a month they had lost 6-0 after a similar humbling at the hands of Brazil in Brasilia.
German Osieck had led the Socceroos to qualification for next year's World Cup finals, now just eight months away, and Gallop said the FFA were keen to get somebody in place as soon as possible.
And although he admitted he had some sympathy for the groundswell of support for employing an Australian coach, Gallop said FFA had been in touch with Hiddink, who took Australia to the last 16 at the 2006 World Cup.
"There's often conversations and it's fair to say that some feelers have been put out, but nothing more than that at the moment," he said in an interview posted on the FFA website (www.footballaustralia.com.au/).
"We need to start the process of looking for a new national team coach," he added.
"We want that to be done reasonably quickly. Ideally, we would want someone in place for the next time the Socceroos play in Australia, which is in November."
As well as his success with Australia, Hiddink took the Netherlands and South Korea to fourth place finishes at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups respectively as well as Russia to the semi-finals of Euro 2008.
The 66-year-old quit as coach of wealthy Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala in July and a return to Australia on short-term deal might appeal to him, although he is sure to have plenty of suitors.
Australian Graham Arnold, coach of the A-League champion Central Coast Mariners, has also put his hand up for the job, while there is plenty of support for Melbourne Victory boss Ange Postecoglou.
"I think we all accept that having an Australian coach makes sense, it's just whether it makes sense right now," said Gallop.
"But that's certainly on the cards."
Gallop's comments will fuel speculation that an experienced international coach may be appointed for the World Cup, and possibly the hosting of the 2015 Asian Cup, with an Australian given a development role with a view to a seamless succession.
Other foreign names that have been linked to the post are former Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa and Frenchman Gerard Houllier, the former coach of Liverpool.
Osieck's assistant Aurelio Vidmar will take charge for the friendly against Canada at Craven Cottage in London on Tuesday and whoever ultimately gets the job fulltime, Gallop has made it perfectly clear that 6-0 defeats will not be acceptable.
"The Socceroos are a team that is renowned for their fighting spirit, renowned for punching above their weight," he said.
"And that's where we want them to be and that's where they want to be."