Ange Postecoglou on the brink of history with Yokohama F. Marinos
Ange Postecoglou is just 90 minutes from what's being hailed as the greatest achievement by an Australian soccer coach with his Yokohama F. Marinos poised to clinch the J-League title next Saturday.
Yokohama host second-placed FC Tokyo in a blockbuster final-round clash and only an unlikely home defeat of four goals or more will prevent the 54-year-old from becoming the first Australian coach to win a major domestic club trophy overseas.
It comes two years after he walked away from coaching the Socceroos after qualifying for the 2018 World Cup and in just his second season with the Japanese club.
Yokohama thrashed fourth-placed hosts Kawasaki Frontale 4-1 on Saturday in the penultimate round to sit three points clear at the top of the table after FC Tokyo could only draw 1-1 a home with 13th-placed Urawa Red Diamonds.
"For us, nothing really changes. Irrespective of the FC Tokyo result we wanted to play well today," Postecoglou said. "We wanted to play our football, and I think we did that."
Speaking of the blockbuster match next weekend, Postecoglou said: "I think the team that are the champions are the ones that deserve to be champions. We still have to do that."
Former Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Bosnich said Postecoglou's feat -- if successful on Saturday -- would be "easily the No. 1 achievement by an Australian coach."
He said the difficulty of overcoming the language barrier to turn a struggling club around and win the J-League should not be underestimated.
"Hopefully it will open a pathway for more Australian coaches," Bosnich told Fox Sports.
Yokohama have a +7 goal differential over FC Tokyo, meaning they only need to avoid a four-goal defeat (or worse) to claim the crown in front of their home fans.
The top-flight title would be Yokohama's fourth and first since 2004, when they successful defended the crown they won a year earlier.
A two-time A-League winning coach with Brisbane Roar, Postecoglou has turned Yokohama around during his tenure, which began just a month after his shock resignation as Socceroos coach in Nov. 2017.
After a dire start to the 2018 league season left Yokohama in a relegation battle, they improved late in the season to finish 12th and also made the final of the J-League Cup.
Yokohama's form in 2019 resulted in Postecoglou being rewarded with a contract extension which will keep him in charge until the end of next season.
Saturday's thumping win over Kawasaki was a sixth-straight victory for Yokohama, who are now undefeated in 10 games.