September 6, 2017 / 1:13 AM / 16 days ago

Under-fire Postecoglou says Australia will stick to their guns

FILE PHOTO - Soccer Football - Australia v Germany - FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 - Group B - Fisht Stadium, Sochi, Russia - June 19, 2017 Australia coach Ange Postecoglou REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Under-pressure Australia coach Ange Postecoglou has defended his coaching methods and said the Socceroos will stick to their high-tempo gameplan despite missing out on direct qualification for next year’s World Cup finals.

After Australia only managed a 2-1 win over Thailand on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia’s 1-0 defeat of Japan condemned the Socceroos to home and away playoffs against Syria in October.If they get through that, the Socceroos would face the fourth-placed team in Central and North American qualifying over two legs in November for a berth in Russia.

Australia’s lack of finishing polish has been a hallmark of their campaign, heaping pressure on Postecoglou for trying to fashion an attacking game from a team lacking world class players.

Postecoglou, however, said he would wear the criticism and claimed his side was close to finding the consistency to challenge the best.

“I said before the game I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, mate. So what do you do? You get on with life,” Postecoglou told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday.

”My position’s my position. My position is I’m coach of the national team, it’s a great honour. I took the role to do it a certain way and I’ll see it through.

”The Australian football industry chewed me up and spat me out 10 years ago.

”So this is nothing new. It doesn’t change my conviction of what I think is right for our game in our country and I’ll see it through.

”I won’t be pushed into the shadows of Australian football like others, just by just bowing to certain parts.

“I’ve survived much worse than this and if anything, it motivates me to keep going because I want to make sure Australian football gets on the right path.”

Postecoglou’s position has been openly challenged by former Australia goalkeeper and TV pundit Mark Bosnich, who said the man who guided Australia to the 2015 Asian Cup triumph had lost his way.

Social media was also littered with disgruntled fans calling for the 52-year-old’s head.

The 26,000 who turned up to see Australia labour against Thailand were as frustrated as the players after the Socceroos managed only two goals from 45 shots.

The Socceroos hit the woodwork three times, had others cleared off the line and were denied by the excellent Thai keeper but pundits saw the game as a microcosm of their long struggles to finish.

Australia were defeated 2-0 by Japan last week after also dominating possession but Postecoglou said his team was just struggling for consistency.

“I don’t think it’s a massive improvement (needed), I think it’s just a bit more consistency in what we’re doing,” he said.

”That’s probably the hardest gap to bridge because only the very best can do it.

“That’s that final little hurdle for us and we’ll keep having a crack at it, I don’t think we’re far away.”

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Nick Mulvenney

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