• New Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk (Getty Images)
New Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk might be in a rush to whip Australia into shape for the World Cup, but the Dutchman is determined to keep his squad smiling.
5 Feb 2018 - 10:12 PM  UPDATED 5 Feb 2018 - 10:12 PM

The 65-year-old was named as Ange Postecoglou's replacement just over a week ago, leaving him less than five months to prepare for soccer's showpiece tournament in Russia starting in June.

The man who took the Netherlands to the World Cup final in 2010 plans to be assertive, but not too stern with his squad.

"You must not be afraid to take decisions and also decisions that are not so good for the players," van Marwijk said.

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"But on the other side you also must have the freedom to laugh with the players... I don't like coaches who take only distance and it's not good also when you only are in the middle of the players.

"You must have to take distance but I can also laugh with the players."

Van Marwijk's first match in charge of the Socceroos is only seven weeks away - a friendly against Norway in Oslo. Australia face Colombia in another friendly just four days later.

He saw "a few interesting players" in the four A-League games he watched last weekend and plans to keep a close eye on Australians playing in the various leagues in Europe and Asia.

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"The most important thing for me now is to learn the players and to see them," he said.

"And that's not easy because we don't have a lot of time... I'm happy that I saw here already four games and that was interesting for me."

At least van Marwijk will be familiar with a lot of Australia's World Cup aspirants given he coached against them in the qualifiers when in charge of Saudi Arabia.