Socceroos Coach

In this, the second of my articles about Australian soccer, I address the management of the Australian soccer squads and in particular that of the Socceroos.

SA’s reasoning behind this offer has not been made clear. Is it because of the players like Farina? Is it because he coached the team to some massive (30+) goal victories against the all-mighty nations of the Pacific? Is it because he’s willing to do it for less than anyone else and with SA’s mismanagement of funds, they can’t afford anyone else? Your guess would be as good as mine. The last option seems like the most likely reason for their offer. Farina’s stated goal when he accepted the position of coach two years ago, was to have the Socceroos qualify for 2002. This objective was not met and he MUST be considered a failure as a coach based on that. If he had aimed to break the record for the largest winning margin in a world cup qualifier, or had he set out to become the most likable coach the Socceroos have ever had, fine, renew his contract, but as these were not his aims when he began, he should be shown the door with a handshake and a big, “THANKS FOR NOTHING”.

His original appointment was questionable to start with. With only about 2 years of coaching experience (at a level worthy of putting on his resume that is) he was not the right man for the job of taking the Socceroos to 2002, and with an assistant coach in the form of Graham Arnold with no coaching experience. What was SA thinking? It smells of the corruption and incompetence that SA has become famous for.

Frank Farina was a good player in his day, and will probably, one day, be a good coach, but what he needs is a few (ie more than 2) years of experience coaching at a level and standard that will give him the experience that great coaches of the world have. Graham Arnold’s appointment as an assistant couldn’t be justified no matter how much anyone tried. He was a VERY average player that got far too many games in the green and gold purely because he was one of the biggest and strongest thugs Australian soccer had, at a time when that type of game was the only tactic Australia played.

In the years of Arok and Thomson, all you needed to do to make the national team was to be a thug. Thankfully, the skill level of Australia’s players has improved over the years with many of the players making a comfortable living playing the sport in Europe now. So why appoint two ex-players from the Arok-Thomson era as coaches of a squad of players that each has more skill in their small toes, than the entire team had back then? Fair enough that Farina was good enough to make it in Europe, and had a bit of skill in his day, but he was never even close to the level that Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka and Craig Moore are now at.

What the Socceroos really need is a coach like Bora Milutinovic. No, not a coach “like” him, what they need is to appoint Bora Milutinovic himself. He has steered China to 2002 qualification. In 1998 he took Nigeria to the second round after they finished first in their group. In 1994 it was USA on their home turf that called on Bora’s brilliance to get them through to the second round. In 1990 Bora coached Costa Rica who defeated (to the surprise of everyone) both Scotland and Sweden and reached the round of 16, a great result for such a small nation. Finally, or more appropriately, initially, in 1986 Mexico got to the quarterfinals under his guidance at their home tournament. He’s a world cup coaching legend. Here is an exert from a profile at the

Bora Milutinovic, one of two men to coach four different teams at the World Cup, may get a chance with a fifth — China.

Despite the sport’s wide popularity in China, the country has never qualified for the World Cup. Milutinovic, A Yugoslav who managed Mexico (1986), Costa Rica (1990), the United States (1994) and Nigeria (1998) at the World Cup, would follow two other foreigners as coach of China, German Klaus Schlappner and Briton Bobby Houghton.

Carlos Alberto Parreira is the only other man to coach four teams at the World Cup: Kuwait (1982), United Arab Emirates (1990), Brazil (1994) and Saudi Arabia (1998). Milutinovic is the only man to take all four teams to the second round.

Milutinovic is known throughout the world as a soccer mercenary able to take a team on short notice and achieve immediate success.

Since this article was written, China has gone on to qualify for 2002, making Bora the only coach to take 5 different teams to the sport’s most important event. Does this sound like the man the Socceroos need or what? SA should start saving its pennies and do everything in its power to acquire Bora’s know-how. It’s the only option, unless FIFA decides to give Oceania direct qualification, and even then, without Bora, Australia would probably be knocked out in the first round, just like back in 1974.

[Originally Posted by vlado at January 02, 2002 07:48 PM at – Reposted August 29th 2022 with spelling corrections]