Australia was victorious in one two-legged tie from qualifying for its fourth consecutive FIFA World Cup but the Socceroos are in crisis because of their coach, Ange Postecoglou.
Reports following Australia’s extra-time 2-1 home win over Syria in its previous FIFA World Cup qualifying assignment suggested that Postecoglou was planning to quit after the Socceroos play off versus Honduras, irrespective of the result between the AFC and CONCACAF teams. Postecoglou’s vague response to those reports means that the odds are he will end up exactly doing what the Melbourne-based Herald Sun published, with the word doing the rounds that he has lost the Australia dressing room, not least because he omitted Huddersfield star Aaron Mooy on Tuesday. One has another take on the Postecoglou situation: he has worked out that Australia is out of its depth at the elite level and, if the Socceroos qualify for next year’s FIFA World Cup, he does not want to risk his reputation by being the manager who has to face the media after some heavy defeats.
Postecoglou is a career coach who worked extremely hard to recover from his underwhelming tenure as the Youth Socceroos boss in the early to mid 2000s. Postecoglou led Brisbane to Australian A-League honours and he was well on the way to delivering similar success to Melbourne Victory when the Socceroos job came up and Football Federation Australia approached him. Postecoglou was the manager of Australia when the Socceroos hosted and won the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, riding their luck along the way, especially in their two matches against South Korea. There is a school of thought that Postecoglou is more of a club coach than a national team boss and one subscribes to that opinion: he is better at sourcing players of all nationalities for a system and than adapting a system to suit players with a specific passport. And as followers of all football codes say in Australia, the Socceroos do not have the cattle now.
It is an indictment on the state of Australian football that the Socceroos remain reliant on Tim Cahill for so many of their goals. Thirty-seven-year-old Cahill, who made his international debut for Samoa in 1994, left Everton five years ago and has played for New York Red Bulls, Shanghai Shenhua, Hangzhou Greentown and Melbourne Cup since bidding farewell to the Toffees. Cahill scored both of Australia’s goals in its 2-1 FIFA World Cup home win over Syria, a game that was level at 1-1 before the extra-time period in which the Socceroos enjoyed a one-man advantage for a large chunk.
Australia has been thoroughly unconvincing throughout its FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign and the Socceroos are very difficult to like for their away game versus Honduras next month. Former Australia coach Holder Osieck has told Socceroos fans that their heroes can expect a hellish welcome to San Pedro Sula, which was the murder capital of the world until Caracas in Venezuela surpassed its homicide rate last year. Australia will be without two of its regular starters, Matthew Leckie and Mark Milligan, due to their respective suspensions and heaven knows which formation Postecoglou will deploy given his recent selections.
Honduras is odds against at +110 with Bet365 to beat Australia in the first leg of their FIFA World Cup tie and similar odds to qualify for the tournament in Russia. Honduras managed to register a 3-2 home win over Mexico last time out whereas Australia has not won outside the great southern land since posting a 1-0 away victory over the United Arab Emirates 13 months ago.
Honduras to beat Australia
Friday 10th November, 22:00 GMT