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FA struggling to find Olyroos coach after Rudan and Zdrilic turn down approaches

Mark Rudan knocked back the Olyroos gig. (Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)
Roar Guru
4th April, 2022
10

Football Australia (FA) Technical Director Trevor Morgan may take charge of the Olyroos for the AFC U-23 Asian Cup in Uzbekistan in June after FA battled to find a new coach in the latest recruitment process.

A permanent coach though is expected to be announced shortly, but the process hasn’t been smooth sailing.

After David Zdrilic turned down the role earlier this year to stay at Genoa in Italy, FA had to re-start their search where it is understood Mark Rudan was offered the gig. Rudan ended up taking a two-year contract with the Western Sydney Wanderers instead early last month.

Rudan’s contract extension was somewhat of a shock to Wanderers fans since the early results under his tenure were mixed, and the announcement that CEO John Tsatsimas was leaving at the end of the season. It was expected the club would wait till a new CEO was appointed before making long-term coaching decisions.

While it is unknown whether Rudan used the potential Olyroos offer to leverage a permanent deal, there is no doubt it could have weighed in his favour if he did.

FA’s challenges to find the right coach is concerning especially as Australian football goes through a transition phase, with the Socceroos up against it to make the World Cup in Qatar.

The next generation of players and their development will be crucial heading towards 2026, where Australia will find it easier to qualify considering the expansion to 48 teams and more spots up for grabs from Asia.

The likes of Brad Moloney, Tony Vidmar and Alen Stajcic were all in the running when Zdrilic got offered the role. But Zdrilic’s unexpected rejection left FA in a difficult position.

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Australia have Jordan, Kuwait and Iraq in their group for the AFC U-23 Asian Cup, with their first game of the tournament against Kuwait scheduled for 1 June in Qarshi. The Olyroos came third in 2020 after beating this year’s hosts 1-0 care of a Nick D’Agostino wonder goal which secured them a spot at the Tokyo Olympics.

The Olyroos coaching gig is considered a tough one. The availability of players and the reluctance of clubs to release them outside of international windows means the best may not be available.

While the AFC U-23 Asian Cup is being played outside the A-League Men’s season, other tournaments and games going forward may not be within FIFA international windows.

The qualifiers for the 2024 Olympics in Paris will be the 2024 AFC U-23 Asian Cup. The official schedule for this has not yet been released.

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