Football Australia announce Graham Arnold will coach the Socceroos to the 2026 World Cup after his incredible run in Qatar – so why did it take so long to make the no-brainer decision?
The underdog Socceroos were the toast of the Qatar World Cup after becoming the final team to qualify for the tournament with a last-gasp penalty shootout against Peru.
Arnold has finally been re-signed by Football Australia after a huge delay following his World Cup heroics in guiding the Socceroos out of the group stage in Qatar
Despite their heroics, Football Australia puzzled fans and experts by delaying a decision on whether to extend his contract.
Football Australia elected to review the World Cup qualifying campaign and the tournament itself before making a final decision.
It had many fans left scratching their heads, given it was Australia’s best ever performance at a World Cup without superstars like Harry Kewell or Tim Cahill in the ranks.
Arnold became a fan favourite and a cult hero in Qatar after leading a Socceroos outfit many considered to be the worst of all time to their best ever World Cup result
Arnold himself admitted at the time that he needed a break after the long road to Qatar.
‘I just want to go away, have a good holiday, have a break and see what happens,’ Arnold said after the Argentina game.
‘I haven’t even thought about it (my future). I need a rest and no doubt I will have good discussions then with the organisation.’
However, after Arnold had time to holiday and recharge following the arduous qualification process and World Cup itself, the governing body announced on Monday that Arnold will be in charge of the Socceroos until the 2026 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,’ Arnold said.
‘The hunger to continue in the role has never been stronger and I know I have more to give to the Socceroos’ program and Australian football, where I want to deliver more smiles for our fans as we did in Qatar.
‘I approach the next four years with a clean sheet, which is underpinned by a burning ambition to provide more opportunities to our leading emerging and established talent, whilst challenging for major titles starting with the AFC Asian Cup in Qatar next year,;
Australia defeated Tunisia and Denmark to secure their best ever result at the World Cup after only just managing to qualify for the tournament under coach Arnold
‘What Graham and the entire squad achieved under the most challenging of circumstances during the last FIFA World Cup campaign was exceptional, and we are delighted that we have secured his services for a further four years,’ Football Australia Chair Chris Nikou said.
‘Football Australia is ambitious, where we expect continued progress and results from our senior and youth national teams, and through our discussions with Graham over recent weeks, we know our thinking is aligned on the future direction of Australian football and the Subway Socceroos.’
Work will begin immefiately, with Arnold signalling a host of changes to improve Australian football.
He has called for more government funding for junior development, a dedicated Socceroos headquarters in Australia and improvements to the A-League to continue the momentum from the World Cup.
As a footballer, Arnold made 56 appearances for the Socceroos (1985 – 1997) and has played a leading role in Australian men’s senior and youth national teams over two separate periods from 2000.
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