Socceroos name new coach ... again
GRAHAM Arnold will take over as Australia coach after the World Cup, replacing Dutchman Bert van Marwijk who was hired on a short-term basis to guide the team in Russia, football officials announced Thursday.
The Sydney FC coach was one of the main candidates to replace Ange Postecoglou, who quit in November after the Socceroos beat Honduras in an intercontinental playoff to qualify for Russia 2018.
But "Arnie", a former Socceroos caretaker boss, wanted to see out his contract with the A-League side and ruled himself out of contention.
Instead Van Marwijk, who took the Netherlands to the 2010 World Cup final, was appointed in January on a five-month contract.
"Arnie is clearly in our opinion the best person for the job, not just the best Australian but the best person for the job," said Football Federation Australia chairman Steven Lowy, in announcing his four-year deal.
"His pedigree as a footballer and as a coach of the Socceroos themselves some years ago, but his success more recently with both the Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC has clearly given Arnie the right to be put forward for the job.
Sydney-born Arnold has experience at international level, having previously worked as an assistant to former Socceroos coach Frank Farina between 2000-2005 and then under Guus Hiddink and Pim Verbeek.
He managed the team during the 2007 Asian Cup in a caretaker role for 12 months, making the quarter-finals, after Hiddink left following the 2006 World Cup in Germany and before Verbeek took over.
Arnold stayed on as Verbeek's assistant, including at the 2010 World Cup, before being appointed coach of the Central Coast Mariners, where he spent three years and led them to the championship in 2013.
More recently he has been in charge at Sydney, guiding them to the title last season.
The 2019 Asian Cup in the UAE will be his first major tournament back in charge of Australia, with the ultimate aim being qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Arnold says it was a difficult decision to reject a bumped-up offer to remain as Sydney FC manager.
The 54-year-old will leave Sydney FC at the end of the A-League season in May. Arnold refused a pay rise and fresh long-term offer from the Sky Blues in favour of the Australian job in what he said was an "extremely difficut" decision.
"My commitment to Sydney FC is 110 per cent to the end of this season," he told reporters in Sydney. "It (the Socceroos job) is obviously a tough job but one I'm really excited and look forward to."
Sydney FC chairman Scott Barlow said losing Arnold was a blow to his club. "To be blunt, we didn't want Graham to leave and we offered him a substantially bigger and longer contract to stay," Barlow said in a statement on Thursday.
"But the lure of coaching his country has ultimately proven too much, and having complied with the terms of his contract, we would not stand in his way."
Arnold first played for the Australia team in 1985. "It feels like I have never left," Arnold said. "I have been heavily involved in the Socceroos for a long time.
"I know what the job is about, I know it's not an easy job, a tough job ... but I feel I'm definitely ready for the job."