Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has a problem and, like so much in life, it boils down to a question of balance.
Not long ago, he was merely interim Socceroos coach Graham Arnold, the man tasked with plugging the unenviable gap created by Guus Hiddink’s departure after the World Cup.
Now the interim tag has been binned, and the Agen Qiu Qiu former international striker has his heart set on the long-term post of coaching Australia to the 2010 World Cup.
How does he snare the nation’s top footballing job for the immediate future?
Well holding aloft July’s Asian Cup would of course be excellent interview material for the man who hasn’t yet won all over his critics despite his approachable demeanour and a string of OK results.
But therein lies the heart of the problem. Despite a dose of swagger from Australia’s leading lights, taking out the premier regional crown at the first attempt won’t quite be the jaunt some are expecting.
Naturally, the region’s current ranked No.2 nation has high expectations, but competing with the AFC’s aristocrats, particularly in the sweltering conditions at their Bangkok base, is going to need an Australian squad close to its strongest – just as Hiddink enjoyed 12 months ago.
However, the dilemma is that if Arnold continues naming his strongest side, how are his peripheral squad members and local A-League players ever going to gain enough international experience to seriously compete for a place in South Africa in three years time.
“With the World Cup qualifying program coming up there’s going to be a huge emphasis on A-League players,” Arnold confirmed to reporters after announcing his 23-man squad for the June friendly against nemesis Uruguay.
“The short-term picture is …