Postecoglou set to quit before 2018 World Cup

Ange Postecoglou has made the shock decision to quit as Socceroos coach in November, even if Australia qualifies for the 2018 World Cup.

Sources close to Postecoglou on Wednesday morning said the coach planned to step down because he wished to take up opportunities that may arise at club level overseas.

Postecoglou had already planned to step down after the World Cup in Russia, if Australia made it.

He will now look to go after the final qualifier, a home and away tie against Central American nation Honduras, in November.

In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, both Postecoglou and the FFA were equivocal about the timing of his departure, instead seeking to focus attention on the upcoming game with Honduras.

Neither party admitted outright that he was going, but if he had planned to stay it's not unreasonable to expect that Postecoglou would have denied reports of his impending departure and committed himself to the long haul. He didn't.

"I am aware of reports today suggesting that I will step down as head coach of the Socceroos next month. My sole focus is on preparing the team for our final two qualifying matches. I will not let anything compromise the team's journey on getting to a fourth consecutive FIFA World Cup," said Postecoglou in an FFA released statement.

FFA chief executive David Gallop said he had spoken to Postecoglou about the reports and agreed the focus should be on the November matches.

"Beyond that, should we qualify, there is a period of some months until the World Cup and we agreed that we will need to lock in our set up as soon as possible to maximise our preparation time," concluded Gallop.

It is understood that Postecoglou has not yet secured other employment.

"He hasn't got a job lined up, he would be flying blind," a source told Fairfax Media.

In 2016, Postecoglou spurned a multimillion-dollar approach from a Chinese Super League club keen to secure his services after the Socceroos' Asian Cup win.

It's believed that criticisms of his tactics and tactical set-up, which some have suggested is behind his desire to walk away from the national team, has nothing to do with his decision.

"It's simply the fact he has been in this job for more than four years, he has been to a World Cup, he has helped raise the standard of the Australian game. He has brought the country it's first major silverware with the Asian Cup win," a friend said.

"He now wants to return to the day to day involvement at club level overseas. He feels he has raised the reputation of Australian players on the pitch and now he wants to do the same for Australian coaches.

"He believes he can become the first Australian coach to succeed at a high level in Europe if he gets the chance."

Australia advanced to a final qualifying playoff tie by beating Syria 2-1 in Sydney on Tuesday night. Two Tim Cahill goals, the second in the dying minutes of extra time, gave Postecoglou's team a 3-2 aggregate victory.

His contract with the FFA runs to the end of the World Cup cycle, so had they lost that tie his time would have been up anyway. If Australia goes out against Honduras, his tenure would also be over.

If he quits after that ahead of the World Cup it is unlikely that the FFA would not be obligated to pay out the remainder of his five year contract, signed after he took over the national team in late 2013 following the dismissal of predecessor Holger Osieck.

Postecoglou has previously coached the Young Socceroos and won back-to-back A-League championships as manager of Brisbane Roar before leaving to return to his hometown to coach Melbourne Victory, whom he took to a preliminary final.

He also won the Asian Cup in Australia in 2015.

Before that he also won two NSL titles with South Melbourne and coach the club for whom he played at the inaugural World Club Championships, where they took on the might of Manchester United in January 2000.

This story Postecoglou set to quit before 2018 World Cup first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.