Where are they now: Socceroos World Cup coaches

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It’s nearly a year since France hoisted the World Cup trophy under the pattering rain in Moscow.

Take me back to the 2018 months of June and July, I hear some of you guys say. Or perhaps you’re a die hard Socceroos follower who’s mood for the competition went when Australia took an early leave.

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Some did well, while other fared poorly, surely you’ve had to spare a thought for the brave men that took on the monumental task of leading Australia into battle on the world’s stage?

With Bert van Marwijk recently appointed the head coach of UAE, we take a look at where the other World Cup Socceroos coaches are up to now.

Rale Rasic – West Germany 1974

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Australia’s participation in West Germany of 1974 was remembered more as the nation’s first foray into the tournament, rather than their performances in it. Leading the team was Bosnian Australian Rale Rasic, who was thrusted into the job in 1970 at the age of 34. He oversaw the squad’s 12 match unbeaten run in a 1972 world tour before qualifying for the World Cup in rather dramatic fashion.

Drawn into Group A with the host nation, its neighbours East Germany, and Chile, Australia could only secure a point against La Roja but exited the competition with renewed hopes. Sadly, Australia missed out on seven consecutive world cups, before coincidentally returning to Germany in 2006. After the unsuccessful campaign, Rasic was sacked, and he believed his Bosnian heritage prevented the Australia Soccer Federation from giving him another shot at glory.

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After being relieved of his duties, Rasic took on teams in the freshly formed National Soccer League, winning the cup with Adelaide City in 1979. In 1987, he bagged the national championship with APIA Leichhardt, and just a year later, the cup. He saw out his coaching days with NSW clubs to a lesser degree of success and became the technical director of Marconi Stallions from 2002 to 2003.

Since then, Rasic took on the role of a media personality on TV, and was extremely active when Australia returned to the World Cup in 2006. Now 83, Rasic has published a biography and received numerous national awards for his contribution to football. If only he opened up his very own, very proudly termed “Australian Football Museum”  to the public.

Gus Hiddink – Germany 2006

Although it was the heroic efforts of John Aloisi and Mark Schwarzer that secured Australia’s 2006 World Cup qualification in 32 years, recently appointed Gus Hiddink already found his way into the hearts of many Australians. And he probably still is, after sending the Socceroos to their first and only Round of 16 spot in the finals. Back in Australia, all eyes were on the code demanding to be treated with respect, as the Roos were drawn in group F alongside reigning champions Brazil, Croatia and Japan. A loss, draw and win in that order was enough to catapult Hiddink’s side into uncharted territory, to face Italy.

The rest was bitter history, and many today still dream about what that golden generation could achieve. The Russian national team came calling immediately after witnessing Hiddink’s success. Even though he brought Russia the semis in the Euro 2008, a limp defeat to Slovenia in the 2010 World Cup qualifying play-off saw him leave his role. Hiddink went on to win hearts again in his next appointment as Chelsea’s interim manager. The Dutch lost only one of his 21 games, and bagged the 2009 FA cup.

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His next few stints at Turkey Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala, and Holland was ill-fated, and was filled with much controversy. He found some short lived joy when he returned to save Chelsea from a surprising relegation battle in 2015. Hiddink is now 72 and has been managing the China U21/23 since 2018. He is currently on track to producing the goods the Chinese FA wants, after securing qualification to the final Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifiers. Rumours have already been floating around, following Fabio Cannavaro’s departure from the head coach role of the Chinese national team. Who’s stopping good ol’ Aussie Gus from finding his way into the hearts of the Chinese people?

Pim Verbeek – 2010 South Africa

Openly critical of the A-League, Pim Verbeek shut out critics’ comments after qualifying for the 2010 South Africa World Cup. And he did so convincingly, losing none, and topping the final fourth round group, consisting of teams like Japan and Bahrain. However, Verbeek was unable to carry that form over to the final group stages, where it mattered. After being trounced 4-0 by Germany, they drew Ghana and defeated Serbia. But Verbeek’s side was unable to progress to the Round of 16 due to goal difference.

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The Dutchman’s tactics to operate without natural strikers in their opening matches was even more questionable at that stage, and it was no surprise that Verbeek left. He quickly found a new job as the national youth technical director for Morocco. His stayed there for a very successful five years, where he uncovered many talented young players, which would go on to win trophies for the nation at youth and senior levels. Oman turned their attention and successfully captured Verbeek in 2016, after they failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

He delivered the 2017 Arabian Gulf Cup for Oman, but some say his adventures in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup was a greater measure of his success in his short stint there. Despite losing 2-0 to giants Iran in the Round of 16, the nation has never progressed so far in the competition. Early in 2019, 63 year old Verbeek called time on his coaching career. Perhaps he’ll have more free time to work as an advisor to the A-League?

Ange Postecoglou – 2014 Brazil 

Tasked with rejuvenating the Socceroos squad that had been too reliant on the 2006 outfit, Ange Postecoglou’s first challenge on the horizon was the 2014 Brazil World Cup. And being drawn in a group with Spain, Chile and Netherlands meant that it wasn’t to be smooth sailing from the get go. Two opening defeats against Chile and Netherlands signalled an early end to the tournament for Postecoglou’s side. Despite the result, fans were satisfied with the team’s efforts and a fair few felt that a new golden generation was brewing.

Postecoglou remained committed to the Roos after the campaign and the squad rebuilding continued. The Greek’s credentials were proven after he led the team to their first taste of victory in Asia, winning the AFC cup in 2015. There was a sense that he indeed set out to achieve what he wanted to achieve – to build a new generation of stars for the nation.

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Postecoglou decided to call it quits with the Socceroos after he secured their qualification for the 2018 World Cup, explaining that the FFA’s results driven mindset for the code was not in line with his. And off he went to manage Yokohama F. Marinos in the J-League. Currently still at the post in his second season, Postecoglou’s team is currently sitting at at a strong 8th. The 53-year-old has a long and we dare say, bright managerial future ahead of him.

Bert van Marwijk – 2019 Russia

Appointed just 140 days before the 2018 Russia World Cup, Bert van Marwijk had massive shoes to fill. He did have some credentials on board, leading the Dutch to a World Cup final in 2010 and more recently helping Saudi Arabia qualify for the competition. It looked possible, in a group with France, Denmark and Peru. But van Marwijk’s Socceroos fell short of expectations, picking up only a single point, finishing at the bottom of Group C.

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Before some could even figure out how to spell his last name, van Marwijk found himself on the job market again. In March 2019, he was picked up by the United Arab Emirates, with a contract that could see him last until the 2023 Asan Cup. The 66-year-old is past his days of coaching European teams and sides, but let’s hope he’ll be able to hold on to longer job stints.

Feature Image Credit : Ngau Kai Yan

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Ngau Kai Yanhttp://ngaukaiyan.com
Journalism undergrad at Monash University, Kai is a multimedia journalist covering Melbourne Victory. Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund. Once "stole" Shinji Kagawa's plane ticket.