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Australia coach Arnold stays until the 2026 World Cup

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia coach Graham Arnold will remain in charge until the end of the 2026 World Cup in North America, Football Australia (FA) said on Monday.

Arnold led the Socceroos to only their second World Cup final 16 in Qatar last year before a narrow 2-1 defeat by eventual champions Argentina ended their season.

Just months after being pilloried during Australia’s stuttering qualifying campaign, Arnold was being feted at home and given time to reflect on his future in the role he assumed after the 2018 World Cup.

“I love Australia and I love Australian football and nothing in football can ever quite match the excitement, pride and sense of accomplishment that I and the whole squad felt in Qatar,” the 59-year-old said in a press release.

“The hunger to continue in this role has never been greater and I know I have more to give to the Socceroos program and to Australian football, where I want to bring more smiles to our fans than we did in Qatar.”

According to local media reports, Arnold, a former Socceroos forward who won two A-League titles as a club manager, had turned down offers from European sides and an Asian national team to remain in charge for another four years.

His first task will be to help prepare Australia for the Asian Cup in Qatar early next year. The Socceroos won the continental title on home soil in 2015 but were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 2019 edition under Arnold.

Arnold, who issued strong warnings during the World Cup campaign that Australian football’s grassroots needs serious attention, will also play a role in mentoring the national age group teams and identifying young talent.

“I’m very excited about our ways and making sure we’re not just spawning more elite talent through an interconnected pyramid, but making sure these footballers are given the right opportunities to achieve their dreams,” he added.

“In addition to being successful on the pitch over the next four years, I want to help deliver results for football in the form of a bespoke infrastructure for our game across Australia.”

Arnold was widely credited with forging a strong bond within a side that had come to Qatar with very low expectations but defeated Tunisia and Denmark to secure two wins in a World Cup tournament for the first time.

Previously unknown players like Harry Souttar, Craig Goodwin and Keanu Baccus have earned international acclaim for their performances in football’s global showpiece.

“Under Graham’s leadership, the Socceroos made Australian football history with their performance at the World Cup in Qatar, uniting the nation like never before,” said FA Chief Executive James Johnson.

“We are thrilled that he has joined Football Australia to help us continue to bring our vision for the game to life.”

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Christian Radnedge, Himani Sarkar, Peter Rutherford

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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