Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has brushed off criticism after Australia failed to secure automatic qualification for next year’s World Cup.
The Socceroos finished in third place in qualifying group B despite beating Thailand 2-1 in their final game as Saudi Arabia’s narrow 1-0 win saw the Green Falcons edge out the Postecoglu’s side on goal difference.
Australia now face a two-leg playoff against Syria, and should they win that they will face the fourth-placed team from CONCACAF.
Speaking after his team’s fate was secured, Postecoglou ignored calls from some pundits for him to go, instead vowing to fight on.
“I don’t make anything of it,” he said.
“I think I said before the game. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. What do you do, I’ll get on with life.
“My position’s my position. I’m coach of the national team. It’s a great honour and I took the role to do it a certain way and I’ll see it through.
“Beyond that, the judgments on me – 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 country. I’ll see it through.
“(Despite last night’s frustration) I love watching my team, our team, play; if we play like that and continue to improve – people can have their judgments on me.
“I won’t be pushed into the shadows of football history like others by bowing to certain parts.
“I’ve survived much worse than this. If anything, it motivates me to make sure Australian football gets on the right path.”
Is there a risk of the outside noise hampering the players?
“That’s just part of the challenge and growth of the players,” he said. “I dare suggest every qualifying process from here onwards will be a challenging one. The more they go through these experiences they’ll grow. It won’t affect the belief of the group. That won’t change. From my perspective I see a real determination to see this through the way I want them to.”
Postecoglu had addressed his critics immediately after the game, labelling their views ‘garbage’ before walking out of the press conference.
“It’s been unbelievable and it’s been magnificent,” he said.
“I’ve been sitting here frustrated for the last two years, listening to some of the garbage being thrown around at these players.
— The-AFC.com (@theafcdotcom) September 5, 2017
“It’s tough qualifying for a World Cup. It’s even tougher when it’s your first one for a lot of these guys.
“We’ve played 10 games and lost one. They’ve done everything I’ve asked of them.
“I’m the one putting them out there trying to win games of football.
“You know what…? Yeah that’s all I’ve got to say.”
Asked about their opponents Syria on Wednesday morning, Postecoglu said that scouting staff had been keeping an eye on the teams in Group A, but would now increase reconnaissance on Syria ahead of October’s playoff, as well as on potential CONCACAF opponents such as the USA, Honduras and Panama.
“It’s obviously a more difficult road but it happens pretty quickly. From our perspective we switch our minds and get it prepared.
“It’s a quick turnaround to get organised logistically, get info on the opposition, but it’s a process we normally do.
“(We will) hit the ground running.”