Australia, FIFA World Cup, Leagues, Story, World Cup Qualifying - AFC

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Australia coach Ange Postecolgou has accepted his side’s “more difficult road” to World Cup qualification via a playoff following Tuesday’s narrow win over Thailand.

The Socceroos dominated their final group stage qualifier with Thailand in Melbourne but recorded just a 2-1 win, allowing Saudi Arabia to snatch a direct place on offer at the 2018 tournament.

Australia must now triumph in two home-and-away playoffs — beginning with Syria next month — if they are to play in Russia next year.

By Wednesday morning, the Socceroos coach had accepted his side’s 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.”

The failure to secure a direct place has led some — led by ex-Socceroos Mark Bosnich and Robbie Slater — to question his position.

The former NSL and A-League winning coach controversially changed the Socceroos’ formation halfway through their qualifying campaign, and has many off-side with his possession-based approach.

But there’s no appetite at FFA to change coaches, and it won’t be happening before Australia’s World Cup fate is sealed.

Pokkhao Anan
Australia will have to face Syria in a World Cup qualification playoff.

“I don’t make anything of [the criticism] and I won’t waste my time responding to it,” Postecoglou said. “I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. What do you do?

“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.”

Like many in the 26,393-strong crowd at AAMI Park on Tuesday night, Postecoglou couldn’t believe his side were unable to find the back of the net more than twice.

As it turned out, a three-goal victory would have sealed qualification for the World Cup.

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

“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.”

Australia’s first leg against Syria has been scheduled for Oct. 5, most likely in Malaysia, before a home tie five days later.


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