Postecoglou re­fuses to look beyond Hon­duras

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - TOM SMITHIES

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.

SIN­GLE- MINDED: Soc­ceroos head coach Ange Postecoglou has been ret­i­cent about his fu­ture plans.

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