Pim Verbeek's status still up in the air
The speculation's been mounting for months but still no one knows for certain what Pim Verbeek plans to do when Australia's World Cup adventure comes to an end in South Africa.
The Dutchman's contract will come to an end when the Socceroos are knocked out of the World Cup and the perceived wisdom is that the former South Korea coach will pack his bags and leave Sydney behind for a return to club football.
But despite the certainty that seems to surround Verbeek's future - in the eyes of the press at least - the coach has yet to officially confirm the World Cup will be his final gig at the helm of the Australian national team.
Verbeek not talking
Last week he again passed up an opportunity to put the issue to bed at a press conference to announce the impending meeting between Australia and New Zealand, the Socceroos' last game on home soil before the World Cup.
"What I have read about the situation is only speculation," he said. "We are discussing the position.
''There is no doubt that I would like to have it resolved before the World Cup so it does not become a distraction and always the subject of discussion.
"But, for now, everything is speculation.''
So why the delay? Perhaps it is that Verbeek has designs on staying in Australia beyond the World Cup.
The situation for the four Asian nations playing in South Africa in June is different to those faced by the majority of countries taking part at the World Cup.
For Japan, South Korea, North Korea and Australia, the game's biggest tournament comes just seven months before the finals of the Asian Cup.
Verbeek successfully qualified the Australians for the finals in Qatar several weeks ago and, with such a short lag time between the World Cup and the finals of the continental championship, it may well be that keeping the Dutchman in situ makes the most sense.
It would certainly guarantee the continuity required for a successful showing at the Asian Cup, a tournament many within the Australian footballing hierarchy would like to win.
Qatar in January 2011 will be the country's second appearance at the Asian Cup since Australia was granted membership of the Asian Football Confederation and the Socceroos and everyone associated with them will be desperate to make amends for the poor performance in 2007.
Then, an arrogant and complacent Socceroos made few friends on their debut in the competition and there were no tears shed when they were eliminated by Japan in a penalty shootout in the quarter-finals.
The Football Federation Australia could even take the view that by keeping on Verbeek and asking him to encourage the likes of Harry Kewell and Lucas Neill to delay their retirement from international football until after the Asian Cup would help the country's bid to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
By showing the continental championship such a high level of respect - the FFA may feel - would be one way of earning support from some of the four Asian members of the FIFA Executive Committee when it comes to voting for the hosting rights in December this year.
Such a move would also put off the need to regenerate the team until after the Asian Cup, when a new coach and a new team could work together towards qualifying for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.
Encouraging Verbeek to stay makes sense; whether that's something he wants to do, is another issue entirely.
About the Author
Michael Church lives in Hong Kong and has spent the last decade-and-a-half covering soccer throughout Asia and, as a result, is one of the leading authorities on the game across the continent. He is World Soccer's correspondent for the region and during his time in Asia he has covered the performances of the region's teams at the last three World Cups.