For Postecoglou, it will be his seventh piece of club silverware after winning two championships and one premiership with each of Brisbane Roar in the A-League and South Melbourne in the National Soccer League – not to mention his crowning achievement at the helm of the Socceroos, the 2015 Asian Cup.
It’s an incredible resume that few coaches in Australian sport could rival – let alone Australian football. And Nikou believes there is much more to come.
“I think this is just a chapter in this story,” Nikou, who was a groomsman at Postecoglou’s wedding, told the Herald.
“He won’t surprise us, because he never surprises me with what he does, but he’s certainly capable of coaching in Europe in my opinion. It’s just a question of being given the opportunity.
“And maybe having success in the J.League, which is probably number one in the Asian confederation, is going to attract attention.”
There’s something bittersweet about Postecoglou’s feats in Japan given the awkward nature of his exit from the Socceroos after clinching qualification for the 2018 World Cup.
Asked if he personally felt sad about the manner of Postecoglou’s departure from the Socceroos, which occurred prior to his ascension to the FFA chairmanship, Nikou said: “If it was right for him to take the next chapter, as a mate, that’s what I’d want to see – that he’s happy doing what he’s doing.”
“He genuinely wants Australian football to be successful, whether that’s the domestic competition or World Cup qualification. He wants what’s best for Australia.
“We can’t underestimate what he achieved. He got us to qualify for the World Cup, that’s the KPI in his contract and that’s what he did.
“Maybe he comes back some day. At the moment his pathway is somewhere else. If he can win it – and he deserves to – he’ll open up the pathway for other Australians overseas. He’s a trailblazer in that sense.”
Postecoglou could be back coaching on Australian soil early next year, with Marinos having qualified for the 2020 AFC Champions League. Yokohama could be drawn in the same group as A-League entrants Sydney FC, Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory, the latter team needing to get through two qualification playoffs to reach the tournament proper.
“He always said it was going to be a two-year project,” Nikou said. “As a coach you inherit a squad. He’s now got the message through to his players, and he’s picked some players who are more [suited] to the system he wants to play.
“He’s relishing the ins and outs of week-to-week football. International football is a different sphere because you only get players for a week or so at a time and you’re monitoring them rather than having them in your environment where you can assess them directly. He likes a challenge, he’s always said that, and the J.League has given him that.”
Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.