Canberra, Oct 11 (IANS) The coach of Australia’s national men’s football team, the Socceroos, is set to quit even if the country qualifies for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Early reports indicated that Ange Postecoglou, who had already announced plans to step down as Socceroos coach after next year’s World Cup, is unhappy with the relentless criticism aimed at his team, reports Xinhua news agency.
Australian media on Wednesday reported that Postecoglou, 52, will resign no matter what the result of the Socceroos’ intercontinental play-off against Honduras in November, a tie that will determine whether Australia or Honduras make it through to the finals in Russia.
“I am aware of reports today suggesting that I will step down as Head Coach of the Socceroos next month,” Postecoglou said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.
“My sole focus is on preparing the team for our final two qualifying matches. I will not let anything compromise the team’s journey on getting to a fourth consecutive FIFA World Cup,” he added.
But both Australia’s main news organisations, Fairfax and News Corp, reported that Postecoglou would definitely quit after the Honduras matches, and look to coach at club level in Europe.
David Gallop, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Football Federation of Australia (FFA), said that he and Postecoglou had discussed the reports and agreed to first focus on the Honduras play-off.
Reports of Postecoglou’s impending resignation came the morning after the Socceroos advanced to a World Cup play-off with a 2-1 extra time win over Syria in Sydney on Tuesday night.
Postecoglou stirred controversy in the lead-up to the game by deciding to leave English Premier League (EPL) midfielder Aaron Mooy on the bench.
“It just astounds me that people keep thinking this is supposed to be easy,” Postecoglou told media after the match.
“You saw what it meant to the opposition tonight. It’s going to mean the same for the other opposition… if people think we go into games thinking we’re going to smash the opposition here because we’re that far superior, they haven’t been watching,” he added.
Postecoglou has coached the Socceroos in 47 matches, the second most of anyone in the team’s history, recording 21 wins, 11 draws and 15 losses.
In 2015, with Postecoglou at the helm, the Socceroos won the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup, defeating South Korea 2-1 in the final. It remains the only major trophy the Socceroos have won.
Graham Arnold, manager of Sydney Football Club, and Kevin Muscat, Postecoglou’s successor at Melbourne Victory Football Club, have been tipped as possible replacements for Postecoglou.