Big names in frame as Socceroos decision gets close
THE hunt for a new Socceroos coach will quicken considerably in the next fortnight as formal interviews begin with the candidates on a finalised shortlist.
Football Federation Australia confirmed it still intends to make an appointment by mid-February, though it remains coy on whether the chosen candidate will just be for this year's World Cup or will continue into next year's Asian Cup and the World Cup qualifying cycle beyond that.
It's expected that Graham Arnold will be one of those considered while former Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa is also expected to be in the frame.
Formal interviews will begin now, in the search for a replacement for Ange Postecoglou.
As expected, Australia's position as a World Cup qualifier prompted a large number of foreign coaches to express interest, including Louis van Gaal, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Ralf Rangnick, Sven-Goran Erikkson and Roberto Mancini.
FFA's panel of experts - including former Socceroos Mark Schwarzer, Mark Bresciano and Stan Lazaridis, ex-France coach Gerard Houllier and AFC technical director Andy Roxburgh - has been formulating the criteria for the role, in the wake of Postecoglou's shock decision to stand down having guided Australia to the World Cup.
"We have worked with our panel of internal and external experts to draw up the selection criteria and then considered candidates against this criteria," FFA CEO David Gallop said in a statement.
"Through this process we have whittled the names down to a small number of candidates, local and international, and we will soon begin the formal interviews.
"It is has been clear from the outset that we have to pick someone who can lead the Caltex Socceroos for this year's World Cup while also making sure we have the right set-up for the future, including next year's Asian Cup at which we will be the defending champions.
"The role has attracted some outstanding individuals and we are confident that we will be able to achieve a very good result for football in Australia."