Postecoglou refuses to look beyond Honduras
IT WAS a moment that betrayed the enormity of the occasion, and revealed a flash of the tension in the air. When the stakes are this high, when the final ticket to the World Cup is so near to hand, no one is immune.
Ange Postecoglou was detailing why he believes his team is well prepared to face Honduras tonight, why he has faith in his players and who could do the job.
It was a question about his own job, though, and whether he intends to continue as Socceroos head coach even if he is victorious today, that drew the starkest response.
“You’re asking about stuff that, mate, at the moment … I don’t know, maybe you guys are different,” he said.
“Maybe if your job was on the line on Wednesday you’d be writing about that and not anything else. I’m coaching for Wednesday night, nothing else.”
His energies, he reiterated, “are on making sure we win on Wednesday night. Anything outside that, I just don’t have the luxury”.
Whether or not Postecoglou will continue in the role should Australia qualify, it’s clear his record will be defined by the outcome of today’s game. His players talk of a fourth consecutive World Cup, but being the coach who oversaw the first failure since 2001 wouldn’t sit well.
In part, that explained his sardonic responses to the Honduran media in the wake of the 0- 0 draw in the first leg. Seeing his team dubbed “kangaroos” by them stuck in his throat, even if that came in response to certain parts of the Aus- tralian media focusing on the dangers of Honduras, even drawing unfortunate parallels with ISIS.
“Obviously, we got a few things wrong in our messaging, us as a nation about the country Honduras,” he said. “But there was a fair bit of flak coming our way on the playing front.
“We always respect our opponents but you can’t throw out comments like ‘ there’s no stars in their team’ and ‘ they’ve got a simple game plan’ and expect us or me to take that.
“I think that’s being really disrespectful to a group of players that have worked really hard to make careers of themselves. If we’re going to get beat, we’ll get beat on the field.
“No need for anything in the build- up for anything that takes away from the fact it should be all about the contest.”
That contest is level at the halfway point and who has the advantage is something of a moot point. All that matters is emerging victorious at the end. History as always will be kind to the side that makes it to the World Cup.