Tonight’s World Cup qualifier against Thailand falls three years, nearly to the day, since the former Brisbane and Melbourne Victory A-League coach took charge of Australia for the first time.
For those who watched the Socceroos’ 1-0 win over Costa Rica in Sydney on the 19th of November 2013, Postecoglou’s vision was unambiguous from the outset.
His unapologetic demand for possession-based, attacking football was the key to Australia’s competitive 2014 World Cup display and delivered the historic 2015 Asian Cup when the nation’s playing stocks were purportedly near an all-time low.
Without the so-called golden generation the Socceroos progressed to the final phase of Russia 2018 qualifying via seven wins in eight matches.
Now, on the brink of making a fourth consecutive World Cup, Postecoglou is satisfied and also driven to continue his evolution.
“It was hard for me to envisage anything at the time of taking over, knowing the immediacy of the World Cup and Asian Cup within the first 12 months of my tenure,” he said.
“You try and project and hope to be in a certain space by the time we have the opportunity to qualify for the next World Cup.”
That meant weeding out the ageing old guard, and Postecoglou showed he wasn’t afraid to do what his predecessor Holger Osieck didn’t by controversially calling time on the international careers of many of those aged 30 and over from Germany 2006.
In their place came less-experienced youth carrying long-term promise – all part of a grand plan to add much-needed depth.
“We’re now in that bracket I wanted the bulk of the squad to be in terms of age and relevant caps at international level,” Postecoglou said.
“Because you know if you qualify for a World Cup those kinds of things certainly help to have more of an impact.
“And in terms of the way we’re playing … I think we’re just about there.
“The best is certainly yet to come, because a lot of these guys will be key players in the next World Cup cycle as well.”
Many of those faces are the fruits of a global talent sweep early in Postecoglou’s incumbency.
No future star was missed, including those with dual nationality who could choose which country to play for.
In the squad to face Thailand are five who played youth international football for other countries in Brad Smith (England), Apo Giannou (Greece), Milos Degenek (Serbia), Jamie Maclaren (Scotland) and Jackson Irvine (Scotland), while Jimmy Jeggo is also still eligible to play for Austria.
“It’s not about convincing them,” Postecoglou said.
“I think all of them wanted to but sometimes, particularly for guys who leave Australia at a young age and go halfway around the world, if we don’t show them a little bit of care and attention they could get lost.”
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