21 days to go to the AFC Asian Cup, UAE 2019

Postecoglou quits Aussies before Russia 2018 campaign. Hiddink rumoured for return

By Ian Griffiths

November 22 – A week after guiding Australia to next year’s World Cup finals in Russia, Ange Postecoglou ended weeks of speculation on Wednesday by resigning as Socceroos head coach.

The 52-year-old former Brisbane Roar coach had been widely tipped to vacate the post, despite the prospect of becoming the first coach to lead Australia at two World Cups following his tournament debut in 2014. He guided the Socceroos through a play-off win against Honduras last week to qualify for Russia 2018.

“After a great deal of thought and soul-searching, I’ve decided that the journey for me ends as Socceroos coach,” declared the 2015 AFC Asian Cup winner.

“It has been a privilege for me to coach my country’s national team, to lead them at the 2014 World Cup, to win the AFC Asian Cup and now to have qualified for the World Cup next year. I said we would do it and we have done it.

“All this however, has taken a toll on me both personally and professionally. I have invested all I can knowing how important a period it was for Australian football.

“To coach your own country is the greatest privilege but it also has enormous responsibility. I feel now is the right time to pass on that responsibility to someone who will have the energy it requires. I owe this to Football Federation Australia (FFA), the players and the fans.”

FFA Chairman Steven Lowy admitted to being disappointed by the decision but that he respected Postecoglou’s reasons for leaving.

“Like all Socceroos fans, we hoped Ange would stay on to the World Cup and maybe beyond.  He has done an outstanding job and has always had our total support,” Lowy said. “We wish him well for the future.”

Australian football’s hierarchy is known to have been doing succession planning for the past 12 months, a process that must now involve actively searching for a new head coach.

Guus Hiddink is thought to be among the frontrunners to land the job, with the Dutchman still highly regarded in Australia having helped steer the country to a Round of 16 finish at the 2006 World Cup.

Also rumoured to be in contention is the leading local candidate and current Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold, who oversaw an ill-fated 2007 Asian Cup campaign before assisting then Australia coach Pim Verbeek at the World Cup three years later.

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