By SACHA PISANI
Former Australia international Damian Mori has joined the race for Adelaide United's vacant coaching position and is confident he is ready for the step up to the A-League.
Mori, who scored a record 29 goals in 45 appearances for Socceroos during a fruitful international career, is embarking on his 10th year as coach of South Australian Premier League side Adelaide City.
In that time, the 42-year-old has guided City to eight consecutive grand finals, of which the club has won five.
Mori's work has not gone unnoticed, with former Australia coach Rale Rasic labelling the dual Johnny Warren Medallist as the "obvious" choice to lead United.
And Mori believes his time with City and an accomplished playing career has him primed for the role.
"Coaching is coaching." Mori told Goal Australia.
"You are limited with time at this level [state football]. You get four nights a week training but obviously in the A-League you get more time so you can work on a lot more things.
"Having played professionally I know how it is and I think coaching is a natural progression for me.
"I'm comfortable with what I've achieved and I believe at the level I've coached I can make that next step."
Former international team-mates John Aloisi [Melbourne Heart] and Tony Popovic [Western Sydney Wanderers] have both made the step up to A-League coaching this season - something that offers Mori plenty of encouragement.
"I think that's what you hope for, to get the opportunity to do that," said Mori, whose 22 -year playing career included three seasons as the top scorer for Adelaide City in the now-defunct National Soccer League.
"They’ve been fortunate and done really well now obviously as a player that's played at that level. I'm just looking for the same opportunity to get into coaching."
The search for United's next coach is expected to stretch beyond Australia's borders.
Whether chairman Greg Griffin and the club opt for local talent - such as interim coach Michael Valkanis - or experience from abroad remains to be seen.
But the decision is simple, according to Mori, who says Australian coaches deserve a chance to prove themselves at the highest level.
"I think they have to look local," the one-time Borussia Monchengladbach marksman said.
"You know at the end of the day coaching isn't something you can walk straight into without putting some sort of time in.
"I think it would be good for Australian football if ex players and young coaches are looked at because we are actually putting time back into the game as we learn our trade.
"The experience of coaching in the lower leagues is what you need to get to the next level and you can only be judged on your results, and that's what I'm hoping I can be judged on."