SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia forward Tim Cahill says he is disappointed with media “speculation” that coach Ange Postecoglou is to step down after next month’s World Cup playoff against Honduras.
Australia advanced to the intercontinental playoff against the fourth-placed team from the North, Central America and Caribbean zone after an extra-time victory over Syria in Sydney on Tuesday.
Reports in local media the following day said Postecoglou would step down after the home and away playoff in early November and he later passed up the chance to clarify his future.
Cahill, who scored both goals in Sydney, told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday: “It is just speculation.
“I feel that this angle, the day after the biggest game in Australian soccer to qualify for a fourth consecutive World Cup, is not needed.
“I think we concentrate on celebrating a 2-1 victory, firstly, and looking forward to a full house at home in Sydney of 80,000-plus.
“Speculation is always going to come with our game and it is just disappointing it has come out the day after.”
Postecoglou, who replaced the sacked Holger Osieck in late 2013 and took the team to the 2014 finals in Brazil and the 2015 Asian Cup title, had already said he would not continue beyond next year’s World Cup finals in Russia and has spoken openly of his desire to coach outside Australia.
Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper, citing an unnamed source, reported on Wednesday he would quit regardless of whether the Socceroos qualified.
Football Federation Australia also indicated they were anticipating a change when they said they would need to move quickly no matter the result against Honduras.
“Should we qualify, there is a period of some months until the World Cup and we agreed that we will need to lock in our set up as soon as possible to maximise our preparation time,” FFA chief executive David Gallop said in a statement.
Brisbane Roar coach John Aloisi said on Thursday he was in the dark as to his close friend Postecoglou’s intentions.
“It’s a bit of a shock. But still, we haven’t heard if it’s 100 percent true or not,” he told reporters in Brisbane.
“We have to respect whatever decision he makes but I’d love him to be there at the World Cup coaching the Socceroos.”
Postecoglou had been under huge pressure in the final phase of Asian qualifying this year, with media pundits and former players regularly criticising his tactics, selections and insistence on an attacking game.
The strain has been particularly evident in recent months, with Postecoglou storming out of a post-match media conference in Melbourne following the team’s laboured 2-1 win over lightly regarded Thailand in their qualifier.
Aloisi, however, said he felt external pressure was unlikely to be the trigger if he had decided to quit.
“The criticism comes with the job, with being a coach. I’m sure he knows that’s part of our role,” he said.
“I don’t think that’s the reason why. Undermined? I don’t know, that’s something he has to answer.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Peter Rutherford