Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou admitted Tuesday’s crunch World Cup play-off against Syria could be his last in charge, but the Australian doesn’t plan for it to work out that way.
Australia go into the game at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium fired up after a controversial 1-1 draw in the first leg in Malaysia last week, with a late penalty decision against them eroding their advantage.
The winner of Tuesday’s match will face a two-legged clash with the fourth-placed team from the CONCACAF federation — currently Panama — and Postecoglou knows his time will likely be up if Australia don’t go through.
“I won’t be going into it with a different mindset because it’s an absolute privilege and honour to coach your country. I’ve coached my nation for 11 years, more than club football,” he said at his pre-match press conference Monday.
“Every game is special, I treat every game as if it’s my last. If it is tomorrow night, so be it. But that’s not the plan.”
Australia are banking on vocal home support to get them over the line, but also the likes of veteran Tim Cahill, Celtic star Tom Rogic and midfielder Mark Milligan to weave their magic.
Cahill played no part in Malaysia and Rogic only took the field briefly, in what Postecoglou said was all part of a wider plan.
“We obviously kept a few back the other night. It’s the way we’ve charted our course through the qualifying process, with different formations and players at different times,” he said.
“Tim’s one of those who didn’t play the other night and is raring to go. But there are a few we can look to in terms of selection.”
He added that Rogic was “a good weapon to have”.
“I expect him to become a more and more important player to us,” he said of the midfielder, who has matured under Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers.
“International football is tricky sometimes, it can come down to moments and in a key moment, he is the type of player who can produce something special.”
Milligan, who is expected to captain the side if Cahill does not start, said confidence among the squad was “very strong”.
“I think looking back on the game from Thursday night and analysing it and having things pointed out, I think our shortfallings in the last 30 minutes really show us that when we do things right, we get the right results for it,” he said.
“So if any doubt ever does creep in, we are fortunate that we can look back at recent performances and the way that we do things and we are right back on track.”
Australia, who joined the Asian Football Confederation in 2006, are attempting to reach their fourth straight World Cup and fifth overall.