Arnold extends deal as Australia coach to 2026 World Cup
SYDNEY (AP) — Graham Arnold is set to become the first coach to lead Australia's men's team at successive FIFA World Cups after signing a four-year contract extension that will take him through the 2026 tournament.
Arnold’s position had been in doubt last year as the team struggled to qualify for Qatar, but he then oversaw Australia’s most successful World Cup campaign, in which it won two group matches before losing to eventual champion Argentina in the round of 16.
Arnold’s contract expired at the end of the World Cup. He had been considering offers overseas before Football Australia on Monday confirmed he had agreed to an extension.
“I love Australia and I love Australian football and nothing in football can ever match the elation, pride and sense of achievement I and the entire set-up felt in Qatar,” the 59-year-old Arnold said in a statement.
“The hunger to continue in the role has never been stronger and I know I have more to give to the Socceroos’ program and Australian football, where I want to deliver more smiles for our fans as we did in Qatar," he added.
Arnold is the first national coach since Frank Farina to be awarded a second term. His first major goal will be the Asian Cup in Qatar in January 2024. Qualifying for the 2026 World Cup begins for Australia in November.
Australia's task to qualify for the 2026 edition — being co-hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico — is set to be easier with the Asian Football Confederation getting twice as many guaranteed entries for the expanded 48-team tournament.
Australia qualified for each World Cup since 2010 as an AFC member when the continent had just four guaranteed places in the 32-team lineup plus the chance to advance one more team through intercontinental playoffs. The AFC has eight direct entries for 2026, plus a playoffs option.
Australia needed a penalty shootout win over Peru in their intercontinental playoff last June to qualify for the Qatar tournament.
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