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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

World Cup qualifiers: Australia manager Ange Postecoglou says Syria game could be his last 'but that's not the plan'

Australia take on Syria at Sydney's ANZ Stadium on Tuesday in the second leg of their play-off

Australia manager Ange Postecoglou, left, and midfielder Mark Milligan discuss their pending 2018 World Cup qualifying play-off against Syria in Sydney. Rick Rycroft / AP Photo
Australia manager Ange Postecoglou, left, and midfielder Mark Milligan discuss their pending 2018 World Cup qualifying play-off against Syria in Sydney. Rick Rycroft / AP Photo

Ange Postecoglou has conceded Tuesday's crunch World Cup play-off against Syria could be his last in charge of Australia, but he is not planning on that being the case.

The hosts take on Syria at Sydney's ANZ Stadium in the second leg of their play-off still smarting from last week's first encounter in Malaysia where Syria secured a controversial 1-1 draw through a late penalty.

Postecoglou, 52, has enjoyed success in charge of the Socceroos since replacing Holger Osieck four years ago, taking the team to the 2014 World Cup and winning the Asian Cup on home soil 12 months later.

The winner of Tuesday's match will face a two-legged clash with the fourth-placed team from the Concacaf federation - currently Panama - and Postecoglou knows his time will likely be up if Australia don't go through.

"I won't be going into it with a different mindset because it's an absolute privilege and honour to coach your country. I've coached my nation for 11 years, more than club football," he said at his pre-match press conference Monday. Postecoglou had previously coached the Australia Under 17 and 20 teams from 2000 to 2007.

"Every game is special, I treat every game as if it's my last. If it is tomorrow night, so be it. But that's not the plan."

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Australia are banking on vocal home support to get them over the line, but also the likes of veteran Tim Cahill, Celtic's Tom Rogic and midfielder Mark Milligan to weave their magic.

Cahill played no part in Malaysia and Rogic only took the field briefly, in what Postecoglou said was all part of a wider plan.

"We obviously kept a few back the other night. It's the way we've charted our course through the qualifying process, with different formations and players at different times," he said.

"Tim's one of those who didn't play the other night and is raring to go. But there are a few we can look to in terms of selection."

He added that Rogic was "a good weapon to have".

"I expect him to become a more and more important player to us," he said of the midfielder, who has matured under Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers.

"International football is tricky sometimes, it can come down to moments and in a key moment, he is the type of player who can produce something special."

Milligan, who is expected to captain the side if Cahill does not start, said confidence among the squad was "very strong".

"I think looking back on the game from Thursday night and analysing it and having things pointed out, I think our shortfallings in the last 30 minutes really show us that when we do things right, we get the right results for it," he said.

"So if any doubt ever does creep in, we are fortunate that we can look back at recent performances and the way that we do things and we are right back on track."

Australia, who joined the Asian Football Confederation in 2006, are attempting to reach their fourth straight World Cup and fifth overall.

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