The Socceroos’ giant-slaying journey to the final 16 at the FIFA World Cup has been rewarded with prominent French football newspaper L’Equipe award Graham Arnold the honour of coach of the tournament.

Australia was the last nation to qualify for the World Cup finals in Qatar and few gave them any chance in a tough pool that included eventual finalists France, former world No.10 Denmark and a tricky assignment against African nation Tunisia.

There, Australia was beaten but far from disgraced against eventual champions Argentina and even had opportunities to force extra time and the most unlikely of wins. While the class of France was too much for the Socceroos, they rebounded in sensational fashion to defeat both Denmark and Tunisia to book passage to the knockout stage for just the second time in history.

The L’Equipe newspaper rated players and coaches after each game, with Arnold’s average of 6.75 beating Japan’s Hajime Moriyasu’s 6.50. Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni was ranked equal third for steering his country’s first World Cup triumph since 1986, alongside Morocco coach Walid Regragui, who guided his side to the semi-finals. France’s Didier Deschamps followed in fifth place.

‘We are in touch with Graham about what his involvement over the next four years will look like,’ Johnson told AAP.  ‘Sure, having some stability with this team, given the rise, is a good thing and we will talk to Arnie about that.

Arnold is currently holidaying in the UK and enjoying a much-needed break from coaching. However FA chief executive officer James Johnson is keeping the position vacant until his return when talks will begin on possibly extending his tenure. 

‘We won’t talk to others until we have finished talking to Arnie. But … we have got to be realistic, Arnie’s value has increased but so has the Australian game, and the Socceroos … let’s see where we land, but I must say I am very proud of Graham.’

Unfortunately there was no room for any Socceroos players in the L’Equipe’s team of the World Cup, although there were a few shock inclusions. Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and three Morocco stars featured in the team along with surprise pick Bukayo Saka from England in the forward line.


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