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Danny Blind was hired as the new coach of the Netherlands on Wednesday, with his first task to guide the national team to next year's European Championship finals after its stuttering start to qualifying under predecessor Guus Hiddink.

July 01, 2015

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Danny Blind was hired as the new coach of the Netherlands on Wednesday, with his first task to guide the national team to next year's European Championship finals after its stuttering start to qualifying under predecessor Guus Hiddink.

The Dutch football association said Blind — an assistant to Hiddink and the Netherlands' previous coach, Louis van Gaal — signed a contract until August 2018, with an "evaluation moment" planned at the end of the 2015-2016 season.

Blind is a former defender for the Netherlands and Ajax.

Hiddink's contract was terminated on Monday, less than a year into his second stint in charge of the national team. The Netherlands is one of the top international teams in the world but is currently third in its Euro 2016 qualifying group, five points behind leader Iceland and three off the Czech Republic with four games left.

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"Reaching the European Championship is my only goal," Blind said in a statement. "I'm not looking back and not looking further forward than that. Only qualifying for Euro 2016 counts."

The top two qualify from each group as well as the best third-place team. The other third-place finishers go into the playoffs.

Blind has spent three years as No. 2 coach with the Netherlands and his only other coaching experience was a short spell in charge of Ajax.

The Dutch were semifinalists at last year's World Cup in Brazil, under Van Gaal.

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