Awkward reality for struggling Socceroos boss

4 months ago 97
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Socceroos greats Craig Foster and Mark Bosnich believe that Football Australia powerbrokers must at least start considering alternative coaching options as Graham Arnold comes under increasing pressure to hold his job.

Australia's 2-2 draw with Oman last week badly damaged their chances of direct qualification for this year's World Cup, with an inter-confederation playoff now looming as a more likely path to Qatar.

Arnold has coached the Socceroos since 2018 and copped a recent clip from former manager Ange Postecoglou, who said the national team had "stalled" since his departure in 2017.

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Socceroos coach Graham Arnold at ANZ Stadium. (Getty)

The Socceroos, sitting third in Asia's Group B, have two third-round qualification games remaining against pacesetters Japan and Saudi Arabia next month.

But both Foster and Bosnich argue it would be negligent for FA to not be already exploring coaching contingencies should things go pear shaped.

"The CEO and board of Football Australia at the moment have to be considering what is in the best interest of the team and qualification, that's simple," former Socceroos captain Foster said on the most recent edition of Stan Sport FC.

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Vince Rugari, Mark Bosnich and Craig Foster on Stan Sport FC. (Stan)

"I saw Boz (Bosnich) said last week that if the next couple of games don't go well then Graham's position should be under threat and they have to consider that. And I completely agree, I mean that's obvious, just from a purely risk management perspective. There's a huge amount of prizemoney on Socceroos qualification.

"Sometimes in the past… Holger Osieck was removed (in 2013) once he'd actually qualified and of course Frank Farina went for Guus Hiddink (in 2005) and so on. But those instances were very different from now.

"I think it's extremely unlikely to happen but what I'm saying is that people who are in positions of governance, leadership, have to consider that."

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold looks on during a clash with Saudi Arabia. (Getty)

Australia's final third-round qualifier against Saudi Arabia is on March 29.

The two third-placed teams in Asia then square off in a do-or-die playoff in May or June with the inter-confederation playoff to follow.

"Therefore the preparation that someone would have to come in is extremely small, much smaller than in the past," Foster said.

"So I'm not saying that it's even reasonable to happen but they must consider it, of course... that's definitely got to be on the agenda.

"And therefore, rightly, Graham is under huge pressure in the last two games, to demonstrate that he's still got the team in a position where they're responding to him, where the way that he's setting up the team is good enough to get through this next phase of qualifying and that's the pressure of being an international coach."

Bosnich argued only direct qualification would be enough to rubber stamp Arnold.

The Socceroos will face Japan and Saudi Arabia in their World Cup qualification path. (Getty)

"You go to the playoffs, after the position they were in, and after some of the results, then it (a change) must be considered," the former Manchester United goalkeeper said.

"A lot depends on what we see in these last two games. If they win the last two games, touch wood, they should qualify automatically. If they don't... then I'll say maybe it does need to take a change."

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