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The Roar


Matildas star in line for FIFA Best award but Ange, Gustavsson dropped from coaching race

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13th December, 2023

The heroics of Matildas’ stopper Mackenzie Arnold could see her crowned as the world’s top woman goalkeeper in the FIFA Best awards – but Ange Postecoglou has missed out on the top men’s coaching honour.

Arnold has been named by the world governing body as one of the three women keepers in line to be crowned best in the business in January, alongside England’s Mary Earps and Spain’s Catalina Coll.

But hopes of more Australian success at the international governing body’s marquee annual awards ceremony, which will be held in London in January, have been dashed with Postecoglou, who was on the original short-list of five in contention for the Best Men’s Coach dropped from the final trio.

Instead, when the short list was announced on Wednesday, Manchester City’s treble-winning Pep Guardiola, Inter’s Champions League finalist Simone Inzaghi and Napoli’s Serie A-winning Luciano Spalletti were the trio left in the hunt for the honour.

Similarly, in the Best Women’s Coach category, the Matildas’ Swedish mentor Tony Gustavsson, on the original five-name shortlist after leading them to the semi-finals of the World Cup, also missed out, with England’s Sarina Wiegman, Chelsea’s Emma Hayes and Barcelona’s Jonatan Giraldez all nominated.

There is still the prospect of further Australian success, though, with Sam Kerr, Mary Fowler and Caitlin Foord all on the women’s 11-strong long-list, which will be narrowed down to three names expected to be also named this week before the ceremony on January 15.

The recognition of 29-year-old Queenslander Arnold, who’s currently using her talents to help her English Women’s Super League team West Ham stay afloat in a relegation scrap, is a reward for her fantastic efforts at the Australian-hosted World Cup. 


No other keeper earned more clean sheets than the Gold Coast keeper, whose heroics led to her becoming one of the stars of her home event, particularly when she saved a record three penalties in the Matildas’ quarter-final shootout win over France.

France’s coach Herve Renard described her as “a Goliath of a goalie” after the game, while Gustavsson praised her “unheard of” levels of mental strength.

Postecoglou’s amazing end to his old life with Celtic in Scotland, where he won the domestic trophy treble, and his dazzling start to his new life in the Premier League with Spurs, during which he immediately won three manager of the month awards on the bounce, was not enough to get him on the final list.

Guardiola will be overwhelming favourite for the accolade, after guiding Man City to the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League titles.