Nothing left to prove for Asian Cup winner

"I'm well past the stage of testing my own coaching ability." That was an instructive comment from the national team boss, who bristled ever so slightly at the suggestion he might be looking forward to testing himself against World Cup winner Joachim Loew.

Postecoglou offered a similarly curt response during his time as Melbourne Victory coach when the visit of Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers for a glamour friendly in 2013 was mooted as a learning opportunity.

As a winner of the National Soccer League, the Hyundai A-League and the Asian Cup, as well as a man who has coached in the Club World Cup and the World Cup, the former South Melbourne and Brisbane Roar boss is by no means complacent, but clearly didn't appreciate the insinuation he and Australian football in general are in some way inferior to the personalities populating football's European heartlands. 

"The afterglow of the Asian Cup success is well and truly gone. There a real target ahead of us now and that is to qualify for the next World Cup. Not just qualify but go there and try to make an impact. To do that, it starts now."

Writing in his second autobiography, former Manchester United captain Roy Keane revealed that a fear of failure was a far more powerful driving force in his career than a desire to succeed. 

The notoriously intense and combustible midfielder claimed any enjoyment or pleasure derived from a victory would be brief, lasting only until the next match or season began to dominate his thinking.

Thankfully Postecoglou isn't quite as cranky as 'Keano' but it's not hard to imagine his focus shifting very quickly indeed from that famous triumph against South Korea on January 31 to the marathon World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign. We should be grateful the man in charge has no interest in resting on his laurels. 

We've come along way from the days when domestic-based players were a rare sight in national team camps. The latest squad features eight A-League players, including fresh inclusions Tarek Elrich, Luke DeVere and Aaron Mooy.

Matthew Spiranovic, Mark Milligan and Matt McKay are all regulars, while Tomi Juric and Nathan Burns have retained their spots from the Asian Cup.

Eugene Galekovic has only been overlooked to afford Adam Federici an opportunity, while Terry Antonis has been deemed more valuable to the Olyroos in their Rio 2016 qualification campaign. 

Plenty of other A-League representatives - Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Josh Risdon, Carl Valeri, Mitch Nichols, Luke Brattan, Daniel De Silva, Adam Sarota, Nikita Rukavytsya and Bernie Ibini - have been picked or at least named in the extended pre-Asian Cup group in the last 12 months. 

Make no mistake, the national competition is now an established, reliable pathway to international football and is only getting stronger.

Just as A-League players have been given opportunities under Postecoglou, so have promising youngsters, at home and abroad. 

Taking a punt on an untested kid has been rewarded handsomely in the form of Massimo Luongo, while injury has cruelled what might have been a meteoric rise for prodigious centre-back Curtis Good. 

Mat Ryan, still a baby in goalkeeping years, is another to have paid back the trust shown in him by the boss with interest.

Chris Ikonomidis is younger and greener still, but Postecoglou is taking decisive action to expose him to the environment and expectations of an Australian national team camp. 

Let's hope the Lazio junior responds to the faith shown in him by making the breakthrough upon his return to the Serie A outfit.  

"That's all great and good but I'm not one for looking back to be honest."  

That was the short shrift offered to an obligatory question about Australia's return to Kaiserslautern, the scene of the Socceroos' memorable exploits at the World Cup in 2006.

'Nine years ago and nothing to do with me' may as well have been the response from Postecoglou, who is all about the here and now, looking forward to the next challenge rather than dwelling on past glories.

The first 18 months of the coach's tenure was spent ghost-busting the spirits of those past glories. 

Barely a press conference has passed without at least some mention of Lucas Neill, Harry Kewell, Mark Schwarzer et al.

With Mark Bresciano having retired, Tim Cahill is the sole surviving member of the 'golden generation.' 

The last thing Postecoglou wants to do is wax lyrical about the Japan win or the heroic loss to Italy and invite yet more comparisons between his players and their illustrious predecessors. 

Surely lifting major silverware for the first time means the current group deserve their own famous narrative?