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Sydney name Culina interim coach

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SYDNEY, Australia -- Troubled Australian A-League club Sydney FC have named Branko Culina as interim coach for next month's Asian Champions League matches, days after sacking former England captain Terry Butcher.

Culina, technical director of New South Wales Soccer and former coach of National Soccer League club Sydney United, will lead the team into its opening Champions match against Shanghai Shenhua on March 7 in China.

"I'm delighted to be part of coaching's good to be back and certainly good to be back with a club I believe is at the pinnacle of Australian football," said Culina.

"We all know the importance of Sydney FC to Australian football and going into Asia is something we've all looked forward to for a number of years.

" Now that we're there we certainly want to make sure we do Sydney, NSW and Australia proud," he added.

Sydney FC chief executive George Perry said the club would continue to search for a full-time coach.

Culina has signed only a short-term contract for the club's Champions League campaign but is among the leading candidates for a permanent position, Perry said, adding that the club had received a number of domestic and international applications.


Culina replaces the controversial Butcher as the defending champions, who crashed out of the title race in a minor semifinal to Newcastle Jets earlier this month, suffer player and shareholder unrest.

Culina will see the club through its six AFC Asian Champions League (ACL) matches, beginning next month.

The team must however top their group -- which also includes Japanese champions Urawa Red Diamonds and Indonesia's Persik Kediri -- to progress to the quarterfinals.

Culina is a leading candidate for a permanent appointment.

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