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"Time for a change": Ex-Socceroos lead charge against Ange after World Cup debacle

Soccer

An exasperated Ange Postecoglou has lamented the fact that the most dominant performance of his coaching career didn’t yield a result to match.

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The Socceroos were 2-1 winners over Thailand last night at AAMI Park on Melbourne, but the scoreline didn’t go anywhere near telling the story.

Australia attacked from the kick-off until the final whistle and had tallied 29 shots before one finally went in.

But not even Tomi Juric’s 69th-minute opener could open the floodgates.

Thailand’s Pokklaw Anan equalised on the counter, before Mathew Leckie won the game for Australia.

The result has dire ramifications, with Australia now forced into a challenging series of play-offs after Saudi Arabia this morning beat Japan 1-0 to secure World Cup qualification.

After last night’s match, an emotionally charged Postecoglou struggled to find the words to describe what he had seen.

“If there was a more one-sided contest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it,” he said.

“Forty-five shots; 20-odd inside the box, three posts; one cleared off the line. The goalkeeper’s pulled off some great saves.

“Usually when the evidence is so overwhelming, you get the rewards. Tonight we didn’t.”

If Australia had scored four or five, the Saudis would have needed a two or three-goal victory to reach Russia, but in the event just a win was enough.

“If we had have got one earlier, it might have opened them up a bit. It’s heartbreaking for the players,” Postecoglou said.

He snapped when asked to summarise his 10-game qualifying campaign.

“It’s been unbelievable and it’s been magnificent,” he said sarcastically.

“I’ve been sitting here frustrated for the last two years, listening to some of the garbage being thrown around at these players.

“It’s tough qualifying for a World Cup. It’s even tougher when it’s your first one.

“We’ve played 10 games and lost one. They’ve done everything I’ve asked of them.

“You know what? Yeah that’s all I’ve got to say.”

But others have had plenty to say in the fallout of last night’s debacle, with two former Socceroos leading the backlash against Postecoglou for the national team coach’s failure to get Australia to the World Cup.

Long-serving goalkeeper Mark Bosnich and English Premier League winner Robbie Slater laid into Postecoglou after Australia’s qualifying fate was revealed, suggesting Football Federation Australia should consider a coaching change for its national team.

Former Aston Villa and Manchester United gloveman Bosnich laid bare his issues with Postecoglou’s approach, starting with his divisive 3-2-4-1 formation.

“Don’t be using the national team as an experimental laboratory. It’s not there for that. It’s too important for that,” Bosnich told Fox Sports.

“We’re not England or Brazil or federations with a lot of money. We are strapped for cash and this game in this country needs us to qualify for the World Cup all the time.

“At the moment, he’s hanging by a thread in my opinion… there should be serious consideration given to the fact we need a different voice because those players, regardless of what they’re saying publicly, aren’t responding like they used to.”

Slater saved his opinions until this morning, when he said it was “time for a change”.

The two-time Oceania player of the year didn’t directly call for Postecoglou’s head but did criticise the insular nature of his set-up.

“We need a new approach! Socceroos have lost there (sic) way! Enough bullshit! We now need saving,” he wrote on Twitter.

But there’s no appetite to change coaches at Football Federation Australia, with chief executive David Gallop endorsing Postecoglou’s tenure.

“We are fully behind Ange,” Gallop said today, adding FFA would provide the support needed to allow Postecoglou to become the first Australian coach to lead a successful qualification campaign.

“It’s not going to be easy but one thing about being part of Asia is that we are used to travel and tackling the logistical issues of playing away,” he said.

“We will now knuckle down to ensure that qualifying is as smooth as possible.”

By this morning, the Socceroos coach had accepted his side’s World Cup qualifying fate, vowing to push on in his own indomitable way.

“It’s obviously a more difficult road,” Postecoglou said.

“We’ve just got to switch our minds and to getting prepared for them… we’ll get info on the opposition, get organised logistically and hit the ground running.”

Asked about the critiques from Bosnich and Slater, he said: “I don’t make anything of it and I won’t waste my time responding to it.”

“I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. What do you do?” Postecoglou said.

“I took the role to do it a certain way and I’ll see it through… the Australian football industry chewed me up and spat me out 10 years ago. This is nothing new.

“It doesn’t change my conviction about what I think is right for our game in our country – I’ll see it through.

“Even last night, as frustrating as it was, I love watching that team play. My team play. Our team play.

“I won’t be pushed into the shadows of Australian football history like others by bowing to certain parts.

“I’ve survived much worse than this and if anything it motivates me to keep going because I want to make sure Australian football gets on the right path.”

 

-AAP 

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