Soccer-Australia coach Arnold to stay in place for World Cup playoffs
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Under-fire Australia coach Graham Arnold will stay on in his job until the end of the World Cup campaign despite failing to lead the Socceroos to automatic qualification for Qatar, Football Australia said on Thursday.
Arnold's position had been under scrutiny since a 2-0 loss to Japan last week ended Australia's hopes of direct passage to a fifth successive finals.
The 58-year-old will now prepare Australia for the playoff against United Arab Emirates in early June, from which the winners will proceed to an intercontinental clash against Peru with a World Cup spot on the line.
"The Board of Football Australia believed it was important that we provided a stable environment and to get on with planning for the playoff phase," Football Australia chairman Chris Nikou said in a statement.
"By confirming that Graham will remain coach of the Socceroos until the completion of our World Cup campaign, it enables Graham, his support staff and the playing group to move forward with certainty, and without delay, to ensure the best possible preparation for the next phase of qualification."
Arnold led Australia to 11 straight wins early in the qualifying campaign but they slumped to one victory, three losses and three draws in their last seven matches.
The Socceroos are no strangers to coaching turmoil ahead of global football's quadrennial showpiece.
German Holger Osieck was sacked after earning direct qualification to the 2014 World Cup, while his replacement Ange Postecoglou walked away from the job after Australia had secured a ticket to the 2018 finals via the playoffs.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Toby Davis)
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