Solbakken to coach Norway from 2012

OSLO - Norway have appointed FC Copenhagen coach Staale Solbakken to take over the national team from 2012 after his club contract runs out, the FA said on Tuesday.

Norway's current coach Egil Olsen, appointed in January in a failed bid to salvage their 2010 World Cup hopes, will stay in the post during the 2012 European Championship qualifiers.

Under Olsen, a popular figure who led Norway to the 1994 and 1998 World Cups and second place in the world rankings, the team's form improved but they missed a place in South Africa.

Norway finished 14 points behind winners the Netherlands in Group Nine and were the only second-placed team in the nine European qualifying sections not to secure a playoff place.

If Norway qualify for Euro 2012 Olsen, 67, has the option to lead the team at the tournament being co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine. Otherwise, Solbakken will take over on January 1, 2012.

"This is an ideal solution for the Norwegian national side," Norwegian FA chief Sondre Kaafjord said in a statement.

"Egil had good results in his comeback as national coach and his well documented skills in taking Norway to championships need no further elaboration.

"Staale (has) had great success at FC Copenhagen and is the man of the future for Norwegian football."

"With an extra two years of experience as coach for what is now the best club in the Nordics, we are convinced that he is the right man to develop the national team," Kaafjord said.

FC Copenhagen sports director Carsten Jensen said in a separate statement he was proud of Solbakken's appointment, though they would like to keep the 41-year-old for longer.

The Danish champions will pick a new coach by mid-2011.