Ange Postecoglou was hired as head coach of Australia’s national soccer team on a five-year contract through the next two World Cups and 2015 Asian Cup after his club agreed to release him.
Postecoglou, who was under contract to coach the Melbourne Victory through the 2014-2015 season, had been the bookmakers’ favorite for the job since Holger Osieck was fired Oct. 12 after 6-0 losses to France and Brazil. Postecoglou’s first game will be the Nov. 19 exhibition against Costa Rica in Sydney.
The 48-year-old Postecoglou, a four-time national championship-winning coach, becomes the first Australian to take permanent charge of the Socceroos in eight years at a time when the team is in need of regeneration.
“When your country calls you answer,” Postecoglou said at a televised news conference in Sydney. “I understand the enormity of the challenge. I understand where we currently sit and what needs to be done.”
While the Socceroos qualified for next year’s World Cup in Brazil under Osieck, their world ranking fell to 57 this month from 26 at the end of 2010. Postecoglou wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald on Oct. 18 that the team needed to rediscover its spirit, commitment and courage in the face of adversity.
Postecoglou won two titles with South Melbourne in the defunct National Soccer League. He most recently guided the Brisbane Roar to back-to-back A-League championships in 2011 and 2012, overseeing a 36-game unbeaten run, which is a record in the country’s elite football and rugby competitions.
He also previously coached Australia’s national youth teams and was chosen to lead the A-League All Stars in their inaugural match against English champion Manchester United in July.
Athens-born Postecoglou, who emigrated to Australia at age five, is the first local appointed as the Socceroos coach since Frank Farina’s tenure ended in 2005. Dutch pair Guus Hiddink and Pim Verbeek preceded Germany’s Osieck.
“He’s the right person for us at this time of our development,” Football Federation Australia Chairman Frank Lowy told reporters. “Now is the time for an Australian coach.”