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Australia coach spared axe after World Cup setback

Sydney (AFP) – Australia’s football chiefs said Thursday Graham Arnold will stay as national coach despite mounting calls for his axing after the team’s failure to automatically qualify for the World Cup.

The Socceroos’ bid to directly make a fifth straight World Cup ended with defeats to Japan and Saudi Arabia over the last week.

It thrust them into an Asian qualifying playoff against the United Arab Emirates on June 7, with the winner then facing Peru a week later to book their spot in Qatar this year.

Speculation has been rampant that Arnold could be sacked, but Football Australia said he will remain till at least the end of the qualifying campaign.

“Graham has Football Australia’s support and after nearly four years in the role, still has the opportunity to finish the job he was appointed to in 2018 and see through his commitment to the national team,” said FA chief James Johnson.

“We will work closely with Graham to ensure the team has the necessary resources, support and the approach required to achieve the best possible outcome and ultimately qualification to our fifth consecutive FIFA World Cup.”

Australia made a strong start to their qualifying campaign, but after losing to Japan away in October, three draws derailed their progress before the two defeats over the past week.

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