Soccer-Arnold safe as Socceroos coach until end of World Cup campaign: boss
(Reuters) - Australia will stick with coach Graham Arnold until the end of the Socceroos' World Cup qualifying campaign, according to the country's top administrator.
Even though the nation's hopes of qualifying for Qatar are hanging precariously, Football Australia chief executive James Johnson said now was not the time to consider jumping ship, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on Thursday.
"Qualification is not easy for World Cups and we must remember that the destiny is still in Arnie and the team's hands and that we are at the back end of a long qualification campaign," Johnson said.
"At the start of the cycle, FA engaged Arnie and his coaching staff to achieve qualification and this remains the goal until it is no longer possible."
Arnold, 58, took over as national coach in 2018 but the Socceroos' World Cup qualifying performances have been lacklustre - third in their Asian group, four points behind Saudi Arabia and three behind Japan.
While Arnold has his critics, many keen observers have more lamented what they perceive are deeper structural problems.
"The signs have been there for a while that the rest of Asia is improving and we've kind of stalled in our development," Arnold's predecessor, current Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou, said recently.
At least Australia's World Cup fate is in their own hands, as their final two qualifiers are against the two teams above them.
"Some might say it's difficult, but it isn't over and the reality is: win two games in a row and we qualify," Johnson said.
If they finish third, Australia will playoff against the third-placed team in the other Asian group, with the winner advancing to another playoff against a South American team.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Ballarat; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)
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