Ange stares down his critics

Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou.
Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou.

AT 9.44pm ANZ Stadium was in utter delirium.

Mile Jedinak's 10 teammates had piled on the skipper's back after he completed his hat-trick and on the Australian bench a mob of substitutes and assistant coaches were also converging in one pile.

But through it all Ange Postecoglou remained calm.

He let out one triumphant roar, before turning to give James Troisi some last-minute instructions as he prepared to come on.

Then, maybe, just maybe, the moment washed over him briefly, as the coach put both hands to his head and kept them there momentarily as he stood, alone, taking in the celebrations.

His reaction to the goal that put the game beyond doubt summed up the persona of the man who has been one of the most heavily scrutinised in Australian sport.

His belief in his players has never wavered.

His faith in his game plan has remained stoic.

And if this was to be his last stand, then he has gone out in a blaze of glory, qualifying the Socceroos for a fourth consecutive World Cup and, in the process, becoming the first Australian coach to guide his country all the way to the big dance.

The critics have been plentiful - both of the game plan and the distraction of the past month.

Had the Socceroos faltered at the final hurdle then all the conjecture about the coach's future would have been irrelevant because his contract would have ended on Wednesday night.

But the knives still would have been out, the suggestion being that the "will he stay or will he go" saga contributed to the demise.

Instead, Postecoglou stared down his critics and now stands vindicated.

One of the criticisms of the coach has been his supposed lack of flexibility.

But there was, yet again, clear evidence of it, particularly in his use of Jedinak.


The captain played as the sole deep lying midfielder, with Mark Milligan far more advanced.

More than that, Jedinak dropped into a back four time and time again, particularly when his team was in possession, seemingly guarding against the threat of a quick counter-attack if the hosts were to turn the ball over coming out of defence.

Otherwise, when Honduras was building calmly in attack - which was rare - then the Aston Villa man would sit in the front three, occupying the space.

Postecoglou, as always, promised to attack.

And attack the Australians did, from the first whistle, with as many as six players charging forward.

And when he thought his side had more to give in that sense, particularly in a scrappy first half, he gesticulated to his players to push forward harder.

Will Postecgolou push forward to Russia? Time will tell.

But as an Asian Cup winning coach and one who has guided us to the World Cup yet again, his legacy will now surely stand the test of time.

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