Beyond torchbearer Ange Postecoglou, and his acolytes Kevin Muscat and Peter Cklamovski, there is another cohort of Australian coaches carving out a reputation for themselves overseas, attracting A-League and Socceroos set up coaching interest.
Among them is Malaysia’s U-23s coach Brad Maloney, the former Socceroos midfielder who is on the cusp of renewing his contract with the rising south east Asian nation for a further two years, after attracting offers from A-League clubs.
Maloney, 49, is also on the radar of Football Australia as they scout a new Olyroos head coach.
A tigerish and committed enforcer in the Vince Grella mould as a player, the former Perth Glory and Marconi man - known to many simply as Bugsy - brings that same energy and effervescence to the coaching realm in a region on the rise.
He steered Malaysia’s U-19s to a shock 3-0 win over a Gary van Egmond-led Young Socceroos at the 2019 AFF tournament in Vietnam, and was recently approached by two A-League clubs over a number of differing roles - including the position of head coach.
He’s entering his seventh year within the Malaysian national team set up - though it looks inevitable that an offer to return home will one day prove irresistible.
Meantime, Maloney has a packed year of four major tournaments with his adopted nation to polish his prowess as a tactician with a Postecoglou-like predilection for the attacking arts.
“It’s incredible what Ange has achieved in putting Australian coaches on the map overseas and continues to do at Celtic,” Maloney told FTBL.
“It’s a reward for his drive, vision and ability to harness the attacking instincts of his players - it’s something we as fellow Australian coaches can all also aspire to.
“Obviously you tailor things to the strengths and weaknesses of your players but I’m fortunate that we’ve got a talented group in Malaysia - and the gap at both youth and senior level between countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Australia has narrowed markedly in recent years.
“The investment in the game at all levels in south east Asia has been really significant during my time there and now you’re beginning fo see the results of that.”
Maloney has a bumper year ahead, starting with the AFF U-23 tournament in Cambodia in February - an event Maloney feels Australia should be looking to field a team in at some point.
That’s followed by the Covid-delayed SEA Games in May, the AFC Cup in Uzbekistan in June - where Malaysia might face Australia - and the Asian Games in China in September.
“I don’t remember a year where any nation has had four key tournaments but it’s a challenge we’re embracing,” added Maloney.
“We’ll learn a lot about ourselves and I’m confident we can make this a huge year.
“There’s a chance we could play Australia at the group stage in June - or maybe later in the tournament if we progress.
That would be interesting were it to happen, and a chance to show how far we’ve come.
“Malaysian fans have been crying out for success from the national team for some time and I really believe in this group of players.
“I’m loving doing what I’ve been doing - and while there has been some discussion with a number of A-League entities, I’m more than happy to continue on my current path.
“We’ll see what might happen down the track.”
Despite Australia’s failure to produce the calibre of player it once churned out to order, Maloney said the green and gold are still regarded by south east Asians as a regional powerhouse.
“You always want to see how you stack up against the best and Australia are still held in high esteem, though perhaps not feared as we once were,” said Maloney.
“The gap has really narrowed and I can only see that trend continuing.
“So much money has been pumped in at junior level across Asia and it’s nearing fruit for sure.
“That hasn’t been the case back home necessarily.
“Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia are all very closely matched and can beat each other on any given day.”