Soccer-World-Pride in Australia drives Socceroos coach Postecoglou

By Nick Mulvenney SYDNEY, April 28 (Reuters) - Despite being handed the reins just eight months before the World Cup finals with the Socceroos apparently in disarray, Australia coach Ange Postecoglou is not heading to Brazil looking for excuses. Any reasonable observer would think he could claim a few if Australia disappoint in June, not least because they are the lowest-ranked team and have been grouped with world champions Spain, Netherlands, the 2010 runners-up, and Chile. To look for explanations of failure before a sporting contest is distinctly un-Australian, however, and although he was born in Greece, Postecoglou is a "true blue" Aussie. After the three-year reign of German technocrat Holger Osieck, the fact that the 48-year-old was home-grown was a key factor when Football Federation Australia gave him a five-year contract last October. "My hope and my belief is that we can restore pride to the national team and our national team jersey," Postecoglou said at the news conference on his appointment. "I really want to sell hope to people who love football, but more importantly, love our nation." Another factor in his appointment was the reputation he had earned over 17 years in coaching for rebuilding teams and getting them to play in an adventurous, attacking style. LURED AWAY The Brisbane Roar squad he overhauled won successive A-League titles in 2011 and 2012 and he had started a similar rejuvenation project at the Melbourne Victory before he was lured to the Socceroos. Postecoglou's overseas experience is limited to a short stint at small Greek club Panachaiki and he has described his seven years in charge of the Australia youth team as his "PhD in coaching". He embraced his new job with bullish enthusiasm, promising to give Australia's youth its chance after Osieck was perceived to have failed to oversee a transition from the generation that took Australia to the last two World Cups. With just a handful of friendlies to turn around the fortunes of a side hammered 6-0 by Brazil and France last year, Postecoglou could be forgiven for preferring to focus on winning the Asian Cup on home soil next January. That, however, would be to underestimate his competitive drive. "This could be my only shot at a World Cup, I'm not going to give it away for anything and I don't think we should as a nation," he said after the draw in December. "If we want to do well in the Asian Cup, then we need a strong World Cup to build a foundation and give our players the right kind of experience." (Editing by John O'Brien)

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