Sometime after watching Omar al Soma come within a post’s width of the most humiliating result in Australian football in twenty years, Ange Postecoglou exhaled and wondered if it was all worth it.

It seems the Socceroos’ boss has decided he’ll end his time as coach of the national team after the next round of fixtures against Honduras, whether we win – and qualify for the 2018 World Cup – or not.

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It could also be that David Gallop tapped him on the shoulder sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning and asked him to bring his resignation forward by a few months, but that version of events doesn’t fit so well with my point. 

Is it worth it?

Tuesday night’s win over Syria was enjoyable for only two reasons; Tim Cahill’s first goal and Tim Cahill’s second goal. The 96 minutes that separated those two chapters in the ‘Tim Cahill: 1979–Forever’ autobiography swung between the agonisingly dull and the agonisingly agonising: that free kick right at the end felt like two Pulp Fiction syringes full of pure penalty shootout shot straight into my bloodstream. I saw my life flash before my eyes and it was a blur of World Cup defeats that I’d never get to see.

Tuesday night’s qualifier begets only another qualifier – that’s another 180-odd minutes for Robbie Kruse to work out the offside rule, this time in Honduras. I’ve never been, but it sounds hot, and I bet it rains a lot there too. There’s going to be a party-like (fiesta-like?) atmosphere in the stadium, sure, but with an edge of hostility – you don’t need to have been to the Americas to fill out match previews with “facts” based on cultural stereotypes.

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If we scrape past Honduras then we’re given the opportunity to scrape ourselves across the biggest stage of all at the World Cup in Russia. If you thought the win on Tuesday night was bad, imagine it’s a loss and it’s all unfolding at 3am Eastern Standard Time and the entire world is watching and making jokes about it on Twitter.

In 1974 we lost to West Germany and East Germany. In 2010 we lost to regular Germany. I can’t begin to imagine what kind of Germany we’re going to lose to next. 

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You have to go back eight years to when the world was bopping to the droning throb of a billion vuvuzelas to find Australia’s last World Cup victory, a wholly forgettable 2-1 win against Serbia.

A thousand replays of Timmy’s goal against the Netherlands can’t cover for the fact that we didn’t pick up a point last time out. At World Cups we’ve won two from thirteen matches. If it were any other country, I’d say that record stinks. Because it’s Australia, I’ll say that our best years are ahead of us – just don’t ask when.

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“We have to make it hard for ourselves,” said Postecoglou in the post-match press conference, before denying a journalist’s suggestion that Brad Smith’s substitution for Aaron Mooy wasn’t a like-for-like change. Robbie Kruse has played left back before, the Socceroos’ boss reasoned, so he moved into Smith’s place while Mooy came into the midfield thereby resulting in a like-for-like substitution. Work that one out.

Where Postecoglou deflects criticism with a bullish attitude that has bordered on arrogance a different coach might have simply agreed with the journalist and moved on. But the former Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar coach has to make it hard for himself and a different coach will be dealing with questions about Australia’s substitutions soon enough.

He will claim he was hounded out by a media with an insatiable appetite for controversy, and a public that was impossible to please. 

“It just astounds me that people keep thinking this is supposed to be easy,” he said after the game.

I just don’t get it when people think it’s supposed to be some … show me the evidence that we’ve cruised through to a World Cup.” Trailing off, he might have remembered that people think it’s supposed to be easy because the last couple of times it was.

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Postecoglou knows there’s no winning for Australia with World Cups. The sweet, hazy interim between qualification and the tournament proper will be shattered by an early goal in the first couple of minutes of our opening game and the coach will be left to pick up the pieces.

Why didn’t this left back play instead of this left back? Why didn’t Mooy and Rogic start together? Why do we qualify for World Cups if we can’t compete when we get there? Is it worth it?

Postecoglou appears to have decided that it isn’t.

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Max joined The Football Sack for 2014 covering Sydney FC in the Hyundai A-League and Westfield W-League.