'Naive' Australia are not Brazil, Barcelona or Ajax - Kalac expects Arnold to restore pride
Former AC Milan goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac claims Graham Arnold will restore pride to the Socceroos after "naive" attempts to emulate Brazil and Barcelona that have left Australia a "joke".
Having been announced as Ange Postecoglou's long-term replacement on Thursday, Arnold will leave Sydney FC and take over the national team after the World Cup in Russia, where Dutchman Bert van Marwijk will lead the Socceroos.
Arnold has established Sydney as the dominant force in domestic football after guiding the Sky Blues to the premiership-championship double last season, as well as the 2017 FFA Cup, and they are on track to do the double again this term.
The 54-year-old's appointment has divided opinion among fans following his brief tenure as Socceroos coach after Guus Hiddink's departure in 2006, Arnold having overseen a disappointing Asian Cup campaign in 2007.
Asian Cup-winning coach Postecoglou, who stepped down after guiding Australia to a fourth consecutive World Cup in November, tore up the team's traditional playbook, adopting a bold, attacking and possession-based style of football following his appointment in 2013.
But Kalac, who knows Arnold better than most after serving on his coaching staff at Sydney, insists the former Vegalta Sendai boss will bring pride back to the Socceroos jersey, while reverting to what Australia are known for – their physicality and organisation.
"I'm happy for Arnie and Australian football," Kalac told Omnisport. "I think it's great that an Australian gets the job after Ange and we're not going foreign.
"His success in the A-League shows he deserves a chance with the national team. He will do a good job. His style of football will be different to what we played under Ange and other coaches.
"I think you have to bring back the Australia culture. What we're good at – [being a] team, [a] unit, [we have to] fight for each other and actually respect the opposition and get results."
— Caltex Socceroos (@Socceroos) March 8, 2018
"I think the Australian population, football-wise, we are very naive. We think we're Brazil. We're not Brazil. We're Australia and we're a long way from Brazil," Kalac continued.
"All this talk about closing the gap, Asian nations are getting further away from us.
"What Arnie will bring is pride to the jersey. I don't think there'll be 55 players always selected to play for Australia. I think he will really bring pride back. Realistically, everyone is a Socceroos these days. He's played one game, he's played two. That's a joke.
"Arnie will really bring back the passion and the want to play for your country. You have to deserve to play for your country.
"We have been a bit naive in thinking that we want to play like Barcelona and Ajax and these teams. But we're not Barca or Ajax because we don't have Lionel Messi or these players.
"We're built on team unity, the way we play together as a unit, fight for each other, and getting results. Yeah, we want to play good football, and there will be time to play good football but there's going to be a time that we need to defend and play on the counter and Arnie is a very good coach of counter-attacking football."