Aloisi, Popovic would love to coach Socceroos, but acknowledge Arnold’s right of first refusal

Socceroo legend John Aloisi believes the nominally vacant national team post should be Graham Arnold’s if he wants it, but both he and Tony Popovic admit they would embrace a chance to take on the role if it one day becomes available.

Though his organisation has yet to complete its review of the tournament, Football Australia CEO James Johnson has intimated that Arnold will be offered the chance to lead Australia into the 2026 World Cup cycle; qualification for which begins for the Socceroos next November. 

Arnold, however, was repeatedly evasive in Doha on if he wanted to return for another go around at the helm of the national side, stating that after four and a half long and challenging years he was looking forward to having his future in his own hands and that, most of all, he needed a holiday.

With the expectation that Football Australia would look to appoint another local should Arnold move on – just one coach in the World Cup’s round of 16 not coaching their homeland – figures such as Aloisi, Popovic, Kevin Muscat, and Patrick Kisnorbo have all been floated as potential candidates. 

However, the general consensus is that the role is Arnold’s until he says otherwise. 

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“Look if Graham Arnold decides not to stay on [I would be interested],” said Aloisi. “Because if he decides to stay on they should give it to him because he’s done an incredible job, a great World Cup.

“I’ve never hidden away from that my ambition one day is to coach the Socceroos. 

“Now whether that’s in the near future or distant future, I hope one day that I’m able to do that. It’s always been a goal of mine. 

“But at the moment, my main focus is on Western United and making sure we get another win on the board.”

For Popovic, who like Aloisi represented Australia at the 2006 World Cup, the chance to one day coach the Socceroos would constitute the realisation of a lifelong ambition.

However, he too was cognisant that after his success at the World Cup, Arnold retained a right of first refusal – rendering his own ambitions, for now, largely moot and enabling a more reflective mindset.

For now, the Victory boss says his entire focus is on his own side and their meeting with Macarthur FC this Sunday.  

“When I was a young player, I dreamt of playing at the highest level, dreamt of playing for Socceroos,” the Victory coach said. “And I’m very fortunate that I was able to play at a World Cup and play at the highest level. 

“Now that I’m a coach, you know if you dream one day to coach the Socceroos, there is no greater honour. 

“But that’s not something that I’m thinking about today. We’re delighted and proud of what the Socceroos have done. Graham will decide in his own time what he wants to do.”

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Header Image Credit: Football Australia / Aleksandar Kostadinoski


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