Socceroos field widens with Tony Popovic facing the sack in Turkey

Mike Hytner on 15 December 2017

Tony Popovic’s first foray in European management may be nearing a premature end with reports in Turkey the Australian coach will be sacked by Karabükspor after a string of poor results in the 10 weeks since he took over the Süper Lig club.

Popovic, who stunned Western Sydney Wanderers on the eve of the new A-League season by leaving to take up the opportunity to coach a top-flight European side, has overseen just one league win since arriving in Turkey.

Karabükspor currently prop up the Süper Lig table with two wins from 15 games. The last straw for the club’s management, according to the reports, came after Thursday’s defeat to Istanbulspor in the second leg of a Turkish Cup fifth-round tie.

Popovic’s name will now inevitably be further linked with the vacant Socceroos post, following the departure of Ange Postecoglou last month.

In a recent interview with TRT World, Popovic said he would jump at the chance to coach the national side if Football Federation Australia were to consider him as an option.

“If they called me just to have a chat, of course I’d talk. You can’t really say you wouldn’t talk,” he said. “That [coaching the Socceroos] is something that ultimately I want to do.

“You start out dreaming of playing for your country and of playing in the highest leagues. I started coaching and dreamed of coaching at the highest level. I have goals and I certainly want to coach my country. I want to lead them.

“I don’t know when is the right time, it’s hard to say. I’d never rule it out.”

Following Postecoglou’s decision to quit, FFA appointed a nine-person panel to select a successor to take the Socceroos to the World Cup finals in Russia next year. It aims to announce the successful candidate by February.

Should Popovic’s departure from Karabükspor be confirmed, the roles of his assistants Zeljko Kalac and Andrés Carrasco, whom he took with him to Turkey, are also likely to come to an end.

The position of Popovic, who became the club’s eighth coach in three years, was first thrown into doubt when the entire board of directors resigned early last month.

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