SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Being cranky and prickly is a badge of honor for Australia coach Ange Postecoglou.
No need to lighten up just because you’re at a FIFA tournament.
“Maybe that’s just my demeanor,” Postecoglou said after a series of abrasive responses to questions ahead of Australia’s Confederations Cup opener against Germany on Monday.
Postecoglou was on guard throughout Sunday’s media conference, fearing reporters were trying to trip him up or somehow undermining his team in Sochi.
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Asked why he brought a full-strength squad, unlike the Germans, Postecoglou let out a sigh, paused and then ventured a reply.
“Because we want to continue to evolve as a team and we want to do well here,” he said. “I’m not really sure if that’s a trick question or something. But I usually pick my best team.”
That team is out of the automatic qualification places to return to Russia for the World Cup next year with two matches remaining in the group stage.
So could the next three months define his four-year reign as Australia coach?
“No,” Postecoglou responded bluntly. “I think my tenure has already been defined. So I don’t care about it.”
After being comprehensively beaten 4-0 by Brazil in a friendly on Tuesday, Australia has arrived at the eight-team Confederations Cup on a low.
“People forget this was an award for something we achieved,” Postecoglou snapped back. “It wasn’t given to us.”
The Socceroos qualified for the World Cup warm-up tournament by winning the Asian Cup in 2015 to be crowned Asian champions.
“So if people are easily dismissing that, they’ll dismiss everything else,” Postecoglou continued. “So I don’t really care.”
What Postecoglou does care about is not being given credit for bringing young players into the squad. Inevitably the focus on Germany has centered on its callow squad, containing only three world champions from 2014 while many of the established stars have been given a break.
In the Sochi news conference, a Brazilian journalist enquired in English what the advantages and disadvantages were of playing against such a youthful opponent.
“Let’s dispel one myth,” he said. “When the teams walk out tomorrow, if I had to have a guess, I reckon we will be younger. If people actually want to do some research, have a look tomorrow who the younger team is.
“From that point of view, I don’t buy into any of that stuff … it’s a great game for us, we’re playing against the world champions.”
Pressing home the point, Postecoglou concluded: “Do the maths … I could be wrong.”
Few would want to be the one to tell him he was wrong.
Rob Harris is at www.twitter.com/RobHarris and www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports
More AP Confederations Cup coverage: www.apnews.com/tag/ConfederationsCup