SYDNEY (Reuters) - Holger Osieck has taken quite a bit of flak during Australia’s World Cup qualifying campaign and it was as much with relief as euphoria that the coach greeted the win that sent the Socceroos to Brazil on Tuesday.
A lacklustre campaign that featured only two wins from seven matches before the 1-0 victory over Iraq at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium has tested the relationship between the German and Australia’s football fans and media.
The 64-year-old, an assistant coach with the Germany team that won the 1990 World Cup, made it clear at the post-match news conference that he wanted to enjoy the qualification and not go into an analysis of the game.
He did, however, find time to fire a salvo at the many who have questioned his decisions over the past three years.
“When you have 10 people, you have 10 different opinions, when you have 100 people, you have 100 opinions,” he told reporters.
”Why should I care? I know what I‘m doing, I‘m close to the players, I know the situation.
”Sometimes a player you consider a starter, I don’t see as a starter. Because of the situation in his club, because he’s carrying an injury, whatever...
“But I can assure you, I‘m pretty much on top of it although some people may not be of the same opinion.”
Osieck was brought in after Australia bowed out at the group stage of the 2010 World Cup finals to oversee the transition from an ageing golden generation to a younger group.
The presence in Tuesday’s line-up of players such as captain Lucas Neill, Tim Cahill and goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer indicate that he has been only partially successful.
With seven minutes to go before fulltime on Tuesday, the match was locked at 0-0 and it looked like the direct path to Brazil would be blocked, at least until Oman met Jordan in the early hours of Wednesday morning, local time.
Osieck had just made his last roll of the dice with a flurry of substitutions, which included bringing on Josh Kennedy for an unhappy Cahill, the darling of the nation.
“At times you reach a phase in a game where you have to make things happen, and it was about the time,” Osieck said.
Fortunately for Osieck he was vindicated when Kennedy, who had been absent from the Socceroos team for more than a year because of a back injury, headed home the winner.
Osieck admitted there is a lot of work to do over the next 12 months before he takes his squad to Brazil, but sounded delighted that he is still around to perform it.
”I‘m very happy to live in Australia,“ he said. ”I‘m not, let’s say, a distant coach. Coaching a team via computer, whatever.
“I like to live here and I want to live here and hopefully after today’s victory I get at least another year.”
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Stephen Wood