Ange Postecoglou dropped a bombshell on Wednesday when he quit as coach of the Australian national football team just a week after leading them to next summer’s World Cup in Russia.
Although not totally out of the blue, Postecoglou’s decision leaves Australia in a hole, with no coach and just six months until the start of Russia 2018.
FOX Sports Asia takes a look at some of the contenders to fill the vacant role:
The Sydney FC boss is one of the favourites, especially with those calling for another Australian coach to take the role. Arnold has experience in the role having previously taken over from Guus Hiddink in 2006 after six years as the Dutchman’s assistant. He was replaced by Pim Verbeek after an unsuccessful 2007 Asian Cup campaign, but has matured as a coach since them. Sydney FC’s recent success, they currently hold all three domestic trophies, has only added to the clamour for Arnold to get another shot.
Another homegrown option, the 43-year old Milic’s appointment would provide a seamless transition as he has been working as Postecoglou’s assistant and is therefore familiar with the players and the project. The main obstacle for Milicic is that to date he has always worked as an assistant and never been the head coach, which the Football Federation of Australian (FFA) may consider as too much of a risk.
Bert van Marwijk
A free agent after surprisingly being replaced as coach of Saudi Arabia, the experienced Van Marwijk has a decent pedigree at international level. He famously led his native Netherlands to the final of the 2010 World Cup, where they lost in extra-time to Spain.
He then ended up in Saudi Arabia following a short spell with Hamburger SV, where he led them to the World Cup, finishing above Australia on goal difference, a fact that no doubt brought him to the attention of Socceroos officials.
Luiz Felipe Scolari
A World Cup winning coach, the Brazilian guided the Selecao to the ultimate prize back in 2002, the highlight of a long and successful coaching career that also includes a successful spell in charge of Portugal. Until recently he was working his magic in China, winning three straight Chinese Super League titles and the AFC Champions League with Guangzhou Evergrande.
Postecoglou’s former assistant at Melbourne Victory, Muscat has been in charge of the Victorians since his former boss took over the Socceroos in 2013. Muscat has been relatively successful in Melbourne, guiding them to the premiers plate and championship in 2014-15, while the Victory only lost out on the A-League title last season in a dramatic penalty shootout. A ferocious competitor as a player, Muscat would bring the same qualities to the national squad if he were to get handed the job.
Gianni de Biasi
The veteran Italian coach has a lengthy record at club level in his his native Italy, but only really came into the spotlight after guiding minnows Albania to Euro 2016, where they finished third in their group. The Italian has said that he was approached by the FFA in July and is therefore surely one of the names being considered.
Has a good reputation having led the Western Sydney Warriors to the Premiers plate in his first season and the AFC Champions League the following year – Australia’s only success in the competition. Popovic took the Warriors to three grand finals in his five years at the club. Dropped a Postecoglou-like bombshell in early October when he quit the Warriors just days ahead of the new season to take the reigns at Turkish strugglers Karabükspor, a decision that likely makes him an outsider for the Socceroos job.
A favourite with Aussie fans after leading the Socceroos to the knockout stages of the 2006 World Cup on short notice, Hiddink’s name is an automatic mention whenever the top job becomes vacant. Would be a popular choice, and a smart one given his past successes with the likes of South Korea, Russia and of course Australia. At 71, the only factor that would count against would be his age, although he could still make a good short-term solution.