Sydney FC boss Graham Arnold has ruled himself out of contention to lead the Socceroos at this year's World Cup, but has left the door ajar to coach Australia in the future.
As reported in the Herald yesterday, Football Federation Australia is keen on the idea of appointing a high-profile foreign manager on a short-term contract for the World Cup and then replacing him with a permanent coach - possibly Arnold - after the tournament in Russia.
Arnold's announcement yesterday that he was committing to Sydney FC for at least the rest of the domestic season confirms that approach and will also come as welcome news for nervous Sky Blues fans.
"I am committed to Sydney FC and 100 per cent focused on seeing out this season and winning two more trophies for this great club," Arnold said in a statement yesterday. "I can confirm I will not be coaching the Socceroos in Russia."
Sydney FC had vowed not to let Arnold go without a fight after Arnold last week confirmed the FFA had made contact with him about the vacant Socceroos role.
But Arnold's statement has done nothing to dampen speculation he will take over Australia in the next World Cup cycle after chasing back-to-back grand final wins with Sydney FC.
"Graham will be our head coach here at Sydney FC until at least the end of this season," Sydney FC Chairman Scott Barlow said. "Beyond that, we look forward to continuing our discussions about our long-term plans together. Everyone at the club is focused on winning back-to-back A-League titles and embarking on our most successful Asian Champions League campaign ever."
Dutchman Bert van Marwijk has confirmed he is on a shortlist to coach the Socceroos at the looming World Cup.
But van Marwijk is tight-lipped on his chances of winning the job as Football Federation Australia begin interviewing candidates, telling Fox Sports in the Netherlands: "We are going to talk and see if we can make it work."
Van Marwijk is considered among the leading foreign candidates to succeed Ange Postecoglou, who quit as Socceroos coach last November.
Van Marwijk, who took the Netherlands to the final of the 2010 World Cup, said he had read reports about the FFA finalising its shortlist, adding: "I know I'm on that list."
Asked if it was "really possible" he could coach Australia, he replied: "Yes."
Van Marwijk oversaw Saudi Arabia's qualification for the World Cup in Russia in June but departed the role after a dispute over preparations leading into the Cup.
"I didn't agree with the way they wanted to prepare themselves, the people they wanted to do it with," he said. "And that's why I didn't do it."
FFA chief David Gallop said last week a coach would be in place by the middle of February.