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Van Marwijk named head coach of Australia for World Cup

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SYDNEY (AP) World Cup final coach Bert Van Marwijk has been appointed head coach of Australia for the World Cup in Russia.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) chairman Steven Lowy said the Dutch coach’s experience was the perfect blend for the Socceroos’ Russian campaign.

“This is a great result for Australian football,” said Lowy. “Bert Van Marwijk is world-class. He took the Netherlands to the World Cup final in 2010, he led the Saudi Arabian team to qualify directly for this year’s finals and most importantly, he knows a lot about our team and how they play because he studied them closely as an opposition manager in the same group. These experiences make him a compelling choice.”

Van Marwijk said he was honored to be given the responsibility of taking the Socceroos to their fourth consecutive World Cup Finals.

“I know a lot about the players and how the team has been playing after coaching against them for the two World Cup qualifiers, in 2016 and in June last year,” Van Marwijk said. “I have also been impressed by the national team set-up that the FFA has developed over the past few years.”

Lowy paid tribute to former coach Ange Postecoglou, the support staff and especially the players for achieving qualification.

“We now go to Russia with a battle-hardened group of players and support staff who made it to the finals by the toughest road possible. In Bert Van Marwijk we have a manager who can achieve great things with this team. And we will ensure they have the resources necessary to give them the highest level of preparation.”

The 52-year-old Postecoglou announced his shock resignation from the Socceroos in November, weeks after guiding Australia through a lengthy qualifying campaign for Russia.

As coach of Saudi Arabia, Van Marwijk beat Australia into second place in its Asian qualifying group. Australia went on to qualify by beating Honduras in an inter-continental playoff.

Report: Jurgen Klinsmann interested in Australia national team job

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Well, Jurgen Klinsmann might be coaching at the World Cup next summer as it turns out.

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Fox Sports Australia is reporting that the former U.S. Men’s National team manager is very intrigued by the Australia national team job, and that he reached out to a close friend to help get him the position with the Socceroos.

Klinsmann has been out of his coaching since he was fired by U.S. Soccer in Nov. 2016 during the USMNT’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifying run. Additionally, the ex-German international previously managed the German national team and club giants Bayern Munich.

Despite the 53-year-old’s interest in the job, the biggest potential hold up in him being granted the position is his salary. The Fox Sports report states that Australia has “put aside about $1.5 million per annum,” although Klinsmann was making about $3.3 million annually when employed by U.S. Soccer.

Another line that reads very interesting from the report is the following:

“The German is understood to be very keen to lead the Socceroos given Australia has a very similar sports landscape to the US where the game isn’t the No. 1 sport in terms of popularity for TV ratings among other mediums,” reads the Fox Sports Australia article.

Former Australia manager Ange Postecoglou stepped down from his position with the Socceroos just last week, which came as a shock to many following their triumph over Honduras in a World Cup qualifying playoff.

On Friday, Australia was paired with France, Peru and Denmark in Group C for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Player faces unsporting conduct charges for shoving ball boy

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ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) Adelaide United defender Michael Marrone has been cited for unsporting conduct for shoving a ball boy during the late stages of his team’s 2-1 loss to Sydney FC in the FFA Cup final.

Football Federation Australia on Wednesday issued a disciplinary notice to Marrone for “engaging in serious unsporting conduct,” with a hearing date to be set.

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Marrone knocked over the ball boy, reported by local media to be aged 10, while trying to get the ball to take a throw-in during extra time in the Tuesday night match.

The ball boy and his father were later allowed to take part in the trophy presentation ceremony.

“Just thankful that nobody was hurt,” FFA chief executive David Gallop said at a news conference Wednesday. “Perhaps some lessons for a few people in that one. Glad that it didn’t detract too much from what was a really exciting finish to the game and glad that the boy and his father got to share in the celebration at the end.”

While there are no precedents in Australia for such charges, Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard was banned for three games for violent conduct after kicking out at a ball boy in 2013.

In other countries, clubs have been fined if their ball boys have been found to be deliberately slowing play.

Australia beat Honduras, qualify for 2018 World Cup

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“Aussie, Aussie, Aussie… Oi, Oi, Oi!”

Australia have qualified for the 2018 World Cup with the Socceroos beating Honduras 3-1 in the second leg of their inter-confederation playoff in Sydney on Wednesday.

Qualification marks the fourth-consecutive World Cup tournament for Australia and just the fifth in their history.

Locked at 0-0 from the first leg in San Pedro Sula last week, Australia’s captain stepped up big time with Mile Jedinak scoring a second half hat trick via a deflected free kick and two penalty kicks.

Houston Dynamo forward Alberth Elis scored with the last kick of the game for Honduras but the CONCACAF side were deservedly beaten by Australia in front of 76,080 fans at Stadium Australia.

Remember, Australia finished out of the automatic spots in Asian qualifying and just to get to this playoff against Honduras they had to play a two-legged playoff against Syria, which they won in extra time in the second leg.

Ange Postecoglou’s men did it the hard way, but they’re in.

As “Down Under” from Men At Work blasted over the sound system at the final whistle and fireworks flew over Sydney Harbor, it’s quite clear what qualification meant to Australia and the party in Oz will go on for some time.

Below are videos of Jedinak’s goals as Tim Cahill will be heading to his fourth World Cup tournament and a dogged Australia side will be the team from Pot 3 that nobody wants to face.


Jedinak gave Australia the lead as his free kick deflected off Henry Figueroa

2-0 to Australia after a handball was called against Bryan Acosta

Jedinak makes it 3-0 after a lunging tackle from Johnny Palacios brought down Robbie Kruse

Ranking the worst failures in World Cup qualifying

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So many high expectation nations missed the 2018 World Cup that a second-tier tournament is being bandied about, enough so that people are legitimately intrigued at the idea.

That begs the question: How did we get here? In some cases, sides missed the big dance due to wonky qualifying schedules. Others had tough draws and couldn’t rebound in a playoff. Another group just flat out flopped in red, white, and blue.

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Who’s failure was most heinous? Let us count the ways, er, teams.

7) Netherlands — This is a nation that, like England, has overachieved so many times that neutrals expect more from them that, perhaps, is rational. Their domestic league is not what it once was, but finishing behind Sweden is a tough pill to swallow for a side which has been on the proverbial podium the past two World Cups and four times in its history.

6) Ivory Coast — Africa’s qualifying is brutal, but Les Elephants lost two of three home qualifiers and managed two scoreless draws away from home. In fact, the team was blanked thrice despite a unit with Gervinho, Salomon Kalou, Jonathan Kodija, and Wilfried Zaha. Yes, the nation is on a downswing, but still were the favorites to advance past Morocco.

5) Bosnia and Herzegovina — Perched atop the group for a decent period of qualifying, a loaded BNH side drew Greece home and away, lost in Cyprus, and lost at home to Belgium in a cycle which could’ve seen them make a deep run powered by Edin Dzeko, Sead Kolasinac, Asmir Begovic, and Miralem Pjanic.

4) Italy — The highest-ranked ELO team to miss the tournament, Italy had the misfortune of being drawn with Spain (and vice versa). Second-place there was no shame, but being unable to finish over two legs against Sweden may be understandable — Blågult only allowed nine goals in qualifying — but Gian Piero Ventura’s keeping Lorenzo Insigne out of the starting lineup will be questioned for a long, long time.

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3) Chile — CONMEBOL qualifying is as difficult as any confederation, and probably the toughest. Still, La Roja was shutout in six of its nine away qualifiers, including losses to eighth place Ecuador and ninth place Bolivia. For a side with Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal to be blanked that many times? Brutal.

2) Ghana – At least the Ivory Coast finished second in its group! Ghana drew all three of its home matches, managing its only win at the Republic of Congo. That means Apparently the Black Stars couldn’t imagine a World Cup without the USMNT.

*1b) United States — With respect to the improving nature of CONCACAF, the confederation’s relative weakness and wildly forgiving Hex means the Bruce Arena’s men did as poorly as any decent nation in the world. To not even make a playoff is embarrassing, and the first leg of Honduras versus Australia lets you know all that’s needed about the quality of the lesser friends of CONCACAF.

*1a) Australia — The asterisks is important because the Socceroos dominated Honduras in the first leg only to not find a goal, and can still advance to the World Cup with a win at 4 a.m. ET in Sydney. But losing to Honduras after finishing behind Saudi Arabia on the weakness of handing Thailand one of its only two points of qualifying? Wooooof.