AFC Men’s Coach of the Year 2015: Ange Postecoglou
New Delhi: Masterminding Australia’s triumph at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup has earned Ange Postecoglou the coveted AFC Coach of the Year Award, with the Socceroos’ supremo getting the nod ahead of 2011 recipient Norio Sasaki, who led Japan to the final of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and Mahdi Ali, head coach of the UAE side that finished third at January’s continental showcase.
Postecoglou, winner of the 2010/11 A-League Coach of the Year and PFA Manager of the Year Awards after leading Brisbane Roar to the A-League Premiership and Championship double, took charge of the senior Australia national team in October 2013 with the mission to rebuild a Socceroos side that had become too over reliant on a number of long-serving veterans.
And the fruits of Postecoglou’s labour was there for all to see on January 31when Australia defeated Korea Republic 2-1 after extra-time in the final of the 16th edition of Asia’s flagship tournament, capping an impressive display from the host nation who ended the campaign as the competition’s top-scoring side with 14 goals from six matches.
Three of the four Australian players that made it into the official 2015 AFC Asian Cup ‘Dream Team’ could be labelled ‘Postecoglou products’, with Massimo Luongo, a surprise starter in the competition curtain raiser against Kuwait going on to be named Tournament MVP, and Mat Ryan, who Postecoglou made his first-choice ahead of the more experienced Eugene Galekovic and Mitch Langerak, emerging as the goalkeeper of the tournament, with the then-22-year-old having also featured in all of Australia matches at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Meanwhile the third player of the trio Trent Sainsbury, the only outfield player not to be utilised at the 2013 EAFF Cup following his call up by former head coach Holger Osieck, has impressed since Postecoglou took charge, with the 23-year-old centre back putting in a series of solid defensive displays - which included a man-of-the-match performance in the final - to earn his place in the AFC Asian Cup 2015 ‘Dream Team’.
Speaking after receiving his award from Kohzo Tashima, FIFA Executive Committee Member and Chairman of the AFC Technical Committee, Postecoglou said:
“I’m truly honoured and humbled, it’s been a great year for Australian football . This is not just an award for me; it’s an award for everyone who works in Australian football and the organization. I am very proud to be standing here.
“An award like this is a reminder of how special an achievement it was to win the AFC Asian Cup. For us it was great to host the tournament and it was a boost for the game in Australia to win it.
“We’ll keep on growing and developing, we’ve shown we’re not afraid to take on the world and that’s what we will do in the future. We’re in good shape in the joint-qualifiers and it’s going to be an exciting few years ahead.”