Pim Verbeek will quit as coach of Australia after the World Cup. ((Shaun Botterill/Getty Images))

Pim Verbeek will quit as Australia's head coach after the World Cup in South Africa.

Verbeek, the first permanent head coach appointed following the departure of fellow Dutchman Guus Hiddink after Australia's 2006 World Cup campaign, announced his decision Monday in a statement released by Football Federation Australia.

"It has been a very difficult decision for me after more than two years but it is time for me to look for a new challenge," said Verbeek, who quit as South Korea's coach to take the Australian job in December, 2007.

"I have enjoyed every minute of being head coach of Australia and we achieved some fantastic results including qualifying for the World Cup and the Asian Cup.

"It is a good time to make this announcement, so we can now focus completely on preparing everything perfectly for the World Cup."

Speculation about his future has been swirling around the Australian media for several months, with some commentators saying a perceived lack of talent coming through the ranks had forced Verbeek's decision.

Verbeek has guided the Socceroos to 15 wins, eight draws and four losses in 27 matches since taking over on Dec. 6, 2007.

The Australians topped their group in Asian World Cup qualifying and also earned a place at the 2011 Asian Cup, with Verbeek giving 33 players their senior international debuts during his tenure.

FFA chairman Frank Lowy said Verbeek had led the team with distinction.

"Under his leadership the team has achieved everything we aimed to achieve and I expect he will have the team ready to perform at its best in South Africa," Lowy said.

FFA said processes are in place to find a replacement for Verbeek.