Soccer-Australia coach Arnold to stay on through 2026 World Cup
Australia coach Graham Arnold will stay in the job until the end of the 2026 World Cup finals in North America, Football Australia (FA) said on Monday. Arnold led the Socceroos to the last 16 at the World Cup for only the second time in Qatar last year before a narrow 2-1 loss to eventual champions Argentina ended their campaign.
Feted back home only months after being pilloried during Australia's stuttering qualifying campaign, Arnold had been given time to consider his future in the role he took up after the 2018 World Cup. "I love Australia and I love Australian football, and nothing in football can ever match the elation, pride and sense of achievement, I and the entire set-up felt in Qatar," the 59-year-old said in a news release.
"The hunger to continue in the role has never been stronger and I know I have more to give to the Socceroos programme and Australian football, where I want to deliver more smiles for our fans as we did in Qatar." Local media reports said Arnold, a former Socceroos striker who won two A-League titles as a club manager, had spurned offers from European sides and one Asian national team to remain in charge for another four years.
His first task will be to prepare Australia for the Asian Cup back in Qatar early next year. The Socceroos won the continental title on home soil in 2015 but were knocked out in the quarter-finals of the 2019 edition under Arnold. Arnold, who gave stark warnings during the World Cup campaign that the grassroots of the Australian game needed serious attention, will also have a role in mentoring the national age-group teams and identifying young talent.
"I'm hugely passionate about our pathways and ensuring we are not only producing more elite talent through a connected pyramid, but making sure those footballers are getting the right opportunities to fulfil their dreams," he added. "In addition to success on the field over the next four years, I want to help deliver results for football in the form of bespoke infrastructure for our game across Australia."
Arnold was widely credited with building a strong bond within a squad that had arrived in Qatar with very low expectations but beat Tunisia and Denmark to secure two wins in one World Cup tournament for the first time. Previously unheralded players such as Harry Souttar, Craig Goodwin and Keanu Baccus forged international reputations with their performances in soccer's global showpiece.
"Under Graham's guidance, the Socceroos created Australian football history with their performance at the World Cup in Qatar, uniting the nation like never before," said FA chief executive James Johnson. "We are thrilled that he has committed to Football Australia to help us continue to bring our vision for the game to life."
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