Soccer-Postecoglou happy to keep Australia in the dark over future

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MELBOURNE, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Australia coach Ange Postecoglou has dismissed concerns that speculation over his future will continue to overshadow the Socceroos' preparations for their World Cup playoff against Honduras.

Local media reported last week that Postecoglou would step down after next month's two-leg intercontinental playoff, win or lose, and the 52-year-old has repeatedly declined to clarify his future.

Postecoglou has been linked with Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua and media pundits have urged the coach to set the record straight, saying the speculation was unhelpful in the leadup to the crunch matches.

But Postecoglou was unapologetic when interviewed at a sponsor function.

"I don't really care to be honest. It's not what's important to me," he said.

"For me the most important thing is we get the job done in the next two games and all the other stuff — whether it's criticisms around the way the team's playing or me or what I'm going to do — is just noise that doesn't really infiltrate me and certainly doesn't infiltrate the camp."

Australia striker Tim Cahill, however, said last week that he was "disappointed" the conjecture had taken the gloss off the playoff win over Syria, a game in which he scored both Australia's goals in the second, decisive leg in Sydney.

Although feted when he guided Australia to the 2015 Asian Cup title on home soil, Postecoglou has come under fire for his tactics and selections in the final phase of qualifying this year.

But he denied that he was tired of the role.

"I guess people are trying to figure out a reason why," he said.

"It's certainly not because I'm not enjoying it. This is the greatest honour you can possibly have.

"I love every minute of coaching my country. I know I'm in a pretty special place and I love every minute of it. Like I said, people will talk about it and I'll let them talk."

Postecoglou, who is contracted up to the end of the World Cup, has spoken of returning to coaching at club level and reiterated his goal to take a role overseas.

"Not because of any personal ambition, obviously that's part of it," he said.

"I just reckon that's the next frontier for us and I believe I will be successful where ever I coach next, particularly if it's overseas, and I'll do it as an Australian."

Australia face Honduras away on Nov. 10 before returning home for the second leg in Sydney five days later. The winners join the 32-team finals in Russia next year.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)