Soccer: Drillo’s contract extended

 

Drillo. Photo: EIRIK HELLAND URKE

Drillo. Photo: EIRIK HELLAND URKE

Norway’s soccer coach Egil Olsen (aka Drillo) signed an extended contract on March 31 that will keep him with the Norwegian team through the end of 2009.

The Norwegian football federation (NFF ) also expressed that they hope Olsen (66) will remain in the job if Norway qualifies for next year’s World Cup in South Africa. Olsen, Norway’s most successful national team coach, was known for leading Norway to its first World Cup Final since 1938, in both 1994 and 1998. 

After coaching the Iraqi national soccer team in 2008, he returned to the Norwegian  team as a temporary replacement for Åge Hareid in January 2009. Olsen was initially hired for three friendlies, but immediately faced calls to stay on after opening win (1-0) in Germany. It had been 10 years since he last coached the Norwegian team. 

“We are very happy to be using the option we had with Egil,” said Karen Espelund, the federation’s secretary general. She said she hopes Olsen will help the team qualify for the 2010 World Cup, and will lead the team through that championship.

During his 1990-1998 tenure, Drillo turned Norway into an unlikely soccer power, reaching as high as No. 2 in the FIFA rankings in the 1990s. Norway was ranked No. 59 when Olsen took over on January 14, 2009. In the latest ranking Norway was No. 45. Norway lost 2-1 against South Africa on Saturday March 28, and will face Finland on Wednesday April 1 at Ullevaal Stadium, Oslo where Olsen never lost in 29 games during his first stint.

Norway is in last place in Group 9 with two points from three games, but has a game in hand on Iceland and Scotland, who are second and third with four points each. Netherlands leads with 12 points from four games, reports AP.

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