Australian coach Ange Postecoglou has issued a parting warning to his World Cup warriors: you’re not safe.
While the next World Cup in four years is in the sights of the bulk of his squad, Postecoglou says there’s no security for anyone.
“Even though the majority of them are at an age where the next World Cup is in their grasp, there’s no guarantees for any of them,” he told reporters in Brazil before flying home.
“They’re all here because of reward for good form at their clubs this year. That always will be the measure going forward.
“There won’t be a game they play that won’t be watched, there won’t be a training session they do that won’t be monitored.
“If they keep performing well and playing at a level, they’ll get opportunities. But if they don’t, then other people will come in.
“They’re never going to feel comfortable being a national team member. I’m hoping they will always be on edge.”
Postecoglou and his 23-man playing squad depart Brazil after a winless World Cup, losing to Chile, the Netherlands and Spain.
“Results don’t lie,” Postecoglou said.
“There is a difference between us and very, very best. But we have got to bridge that gap. And that is what I said to them, that is the challenge for the next four years for all of them.”
But Postecoglou said his squad won’t require an overhaul ahead of the Asian Cup on home soil next January.
“We have set in stone now the way we want to play our football and the players we have had in this campaign have really bought in to that,” he said.
“And in periods in games against the world’s best, we have measured up well.
“So moving forward, this group of players obviously will be a part of it. But they’re not the only ones.
“The one thing I think we do need is more depth.”
Postecoglou said planning for the Asian Cup campaign was underway with six internationals expected to be scheduled from September to November.
“We have got some key games locked in … which will hopefully mean six quality games for us between now and the Asian Cup,” he said.
“That will give us a chance to build on what we have done here and also bring in some players who missed out on this one for a variety of reasons.”
Striker Tim Cahill has signalled his intent to play in the Asian tournament and Postecoglou encouraged fellow 34-year-old Mark Bresciano to follow suit.
“If he makes himself available and his form is good, then he is definitely one that we’ll select,” he said.