Ange Postecoglou’s time in charge of the Socceroos lasted just over four years, and included taking his nation to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, winning the AFC Asian Cup on home soil and qualifying Australia for their fourth consecutive FIFA World Cup.
That win over Honduras in Sydney last week was his last act after 49 matches, and at FOX Sports Asia we take a look back at the Top 10 moments of his time in charge of the Socceroos.
10. First-up victory against Costa Rica.
After taking over the hot seat in late 2013 after the sacking of German Holger Osieck, Ange’s first match in charge would be against Costa Rica. Ironically enough, Costa Rica were coached at the time by Jorge Luis Pinto, who Postecoglou would face off against in his final match against Honduras.
Postecoglou named Alex Wilkinson, then with Korean side Jeonbuk Hyundai, in his first Socceroos squad, and while he didn’t see any game time he did go on to play an integral role in Australia’s 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign and 2015 AFC Asian Cup winning side.
9. A vital win away from home
After a 2-0 win over Iraq at home in their opening match of the third round of qualifying for Russia 2018, Australia travelled to the furnace of Abu Dhabi to face a UAE side full of confidence after their come-from-behind win over Japan at Saitama Stadium.
Playing in hot and steamy conditions, no one would have blamed Postecoglou had he adopted a more defensive mindset, looking to slow down the game and play on the counter. But this was not the ‘Postecoglou Way’, and instead Australia turned in one of their best performances on the road in recent times, controlling the match by playing an up-tempo style of game and came away with an important 1-0 win.
This match will also be remembered for Postecoglou’s insistence of wearing a suit on the sidelines that saw his white shirt drenched in sweat by the end of the 90 minutes.
8. Captain Mile
After Lucas Neill departed the scene, the search was on for a new captain of the Socceroos and the logical option was the evergreen Tim Cahill. Instead, Postecoglou made the brave decision to hand the captain’s armband to Mile Jedinak and it has proven to be one of his most astute decisions.
Jedinak has morphed into the ultimate leader for the Socceroos, with his presence felt as much off-the-pitch as it is on-the-pitch. He has been right by Postecoglou’s side the whole way, helping mould the team in Postecoglou’s DNA.
Just last week against Honduras he showed how important he is to this side, leading from the front despite limited preparation. It will now be on his shoulders to carry forward Postecoglou’s legacy.
7. Taking on the World Champions
Coming off the back of their Asian Cup success, the Socceroos travelled to Germany to take on the World Champions. By this stage, Postecoglou had been in charge for 18 months and was starting to imprint his DNA on the side. But could they match it against the best team in the world?
Not one to take a backwards step, Postecoglou sent his side out to take the game to the World Cup winners and early in the second half they took a 2-1 lead after a stunning free kick from Mile Jedinak.
While a late equaliser from Lukas Podolski saw the match end 2-2, a statement had been made.
6. Hot Chile
After two somewhat disappointing performances against Germany and Cameroon in their opening two matches of this year’s FIFA Confederations Cup, Australia turned up against Chile with little to play for, even if there stood a remote possibility to progress.
Against one of South America’s best teams, there were fears in Australia before the match about how bad the result might be. What followed was an exhibition of just how good Australia can be, as they mixed skill and aggression to not just take the game to Chile, but all but play them off the park.
While in the end Australia’s tendency to concede silly goals meant the match ended in a 1-1 draw, it was another example of the way Postecoglou has changed the mentality and style of this Socceroos side.
5. Syrian Success
After failing to guide Australia through automatically to Russia 2018, Postecoglou had to navigate Australia through a tricky series of playoffs, which saw the Socceroos take on Syria first up.
Before kick off Postecoglou’s tactics were again the subject of furious debate after he chose to drop Aaron Mooy to the bench, while starting 37-year-old Tim Cahill up front. In the end his decisions were again justified, with Mooy coming off the bench early to play a crucial role in the game and Cahill scoring both goals to see Australia through to a playoff against Honduras.
4. The job half done
With just Honduras standing between Australia and a place at the FIFA World Cup, Australia stepped into the unknown in San Pedro Sula and on a cow paddock of a pitch, produced their best performance away from home during the qualification phase.
While the match ended 0-0, Postecoglou once again won the tactical battle by tweaking his formation to play just the one holding midfielder in Mile Jedinak, and pushing Aaron Mooy, Massimo Luongo and Jackson Irvine further forward to control the game in their own half.
The draw set them up perfectly for the return leg in Sydney.
3. Taking on the World
After just eight months in the job, Postecoglou had the unenviable task of taking a team of rookies to the 2014 FIFA World Cup to take on Chile, Holland and Spain. It would be a tough ask for any team in the world, let alone one as inexperienced as Australia.
But not one to take a backwards step, Postecoglou built this side to take the game on and in the second game against Holland were on the cusp of a famous victory after Jedinak’s penalty put them 2-1 ahead.
While they left Brazil with three losses, that doesn’t tell the full story. Postecoglou had laid the foundations for the years to come and built a sense of belief within the squad.
2. Playoff success
Last week’s final playoff against Honduras was, fairly or otherwise, a match to decide the legacy of Ange Postecoglou. Win, and he is justified in his decision to play such an attacking style of play, a style that had come in for fierce criticism in the previous few months. Lose, and he would become the first coach since Frank Farina in 2002 not to take Australia to a World Cup.
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) November 15, 2017
Staring down his critics, Postecoglou didn’t blink. He stuck firm to his beliefs and played the game on his terms. The emotion on his face after the match said it all, a burden had been lifted, but more than that the scenes with his players spoke volumes of the relationship he has with the squad. This is his squad, a squad he built it from scratch and a squad who brought into his beliefs 100 percent. There was no prouder person at Stadium Australia last week than Ange Postecoglou himself.
1. Asian Glory
The most defining moment of Postecoglou’s time in charge was undoubtedly the Asian Cup success on home soil in 2015. Just over 12 months after taking charge, Postecoglou lead what was still an inexperienced squad into a tournament they were expected to win, especially being on home soil.
It started slowly against Kuwait, and stumbled with a loss to Korea in the final group stage, but by the time the final came around Postecoglou had the side humming and in front of almost 80,000 at Stadium Australia goals from Massimo Luongo, a player Postecoglou invested a great deal in, and James Troisi sealed a famous victory.
The image of Postecoglou pumping the air in celebration after the final whistle will live long in the memory of Australian fans. There were almost 80,000 fans at the stadium that night, but there are few bigger fans of Australian football than Postecoglou himself.