The Socceroos’ World Cup fate will be determined against a backdrop of continuing uncertainty over their coach, after Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop refused to confirm or deny reports Ange Postecoglou would walk away from his post after next month’s decisive qualifier against Honduras.
Gallop faced the media on Monday after it emerged last week that Postecoglou may quit regardless of whether the Socceroos reached next year’s World Cup in Russia with victory over the central American side over the two-legged playoff.
Gallop admitted the timing of the speculation, which followed the Socceroos’ win playoff win over Syria, was “not ideal” but insisted the coach would be in charge for the Honduras double-header and repeatedly said the team remain fully focused on the immediate task in hand.
Asked whether the speculation was distracting for the team ahead of such an important few weeks, Gallop said: “Certainly it wasn’t ideal to have the story out the day after such a significant win,” Gallop said.
“It’s important that we very quickly get things back on track. The focus is to concentrate on November. Beyond that we need to make a decision.”
Postecoglou’s contract runs for the duration of the current World Cup cycle and he had already indicated he would not seek an extension beyond the 2018 tournament.
Last week’s news cast doubt over whether he would remain in charge even if the Socceroos make it to Russia, with the News Corp report suggesting he would quit after becoming tired of recent media criticism of his tactical decisions and football ethos.
Other reports said he wanted to free himself up to attract club coaching offers from overseas, a view backed up by Gallop on Monday. “Obviously I’ve spoken to Ange a number of times, a number of factors go into this kind of thing. He’s made no secret of the fact he wants to coach week-in week-out again, but his focus is on November and knuckling down to the task which is to qualify for our fourth consecutive World Cup.”
Gallop said any decision would be made after the 10 and 15 November matches, when the international football calendar takes a break until March. He added that any possible replacement for Postecoglou, either before the World Cup or after it, would “not necessarily” be Australian.
“But it’s been a strong point in the last few years is to have that connection to Australian football and understanding the A-League and an ability to look below the Socceroos at what our structures are where we’re at with our junior national teams,” Gallop said. “So I certainly I think it’s always in our interests to look to Australian coaches if we can.”