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Ante Milicic Announced As New Matildas Coach

The Matildas confirmed that former Socceroos player and assistant coach Ante Milicic will take the team to the World Cup this year.

Milicic, 44, was appointed on Monday in the wake of the sacking of long-serving Matildas manager Alen Stajcic, who was dismissed for reasons which have still not been made clear.

Normally you'd call a press conference to announce this sort of major sporting news. Instead, football authorities chose to announce the news on social media channels.

The Matildas issued a statement which said:

"In addition to serving as an Assistant Coach at two FIFA World Cups under Ange Postecoglou (2014) and Bert van Marwijk (2018), Milicic helped Australia win the 2015 AFC Asian Cup on home soil.

Milicic has also mentored the Australia U-23 National Team and was recently the Head Coach of the Young Socceroos.

Milicic’s full focus and time will now shift to the Westfield Matildas as he leads the team at this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, where Australia will face Italy, Brazil, and Jamaica in Group C."

In the statement, Milicic said it was "an honour" to be appointed Head Coach of the Matildas.

"I am determined to make the most of this opportunity together with the squad and staff," he said.

"As demonstrated throughout the Westfield W-League this season, which culminated in Saturday’s thrilling Grand Final in Sydney, Australia has many fantastic players right now and I know that the squad that is ultimately selected will be eager to seize its chance in France."

Milicic has never coached a women's team before, a fact which the Matildas hierarchy preferred not to mention as they pushed his coaching credentials.

Pleasingly for football fans, there was support for the appointment from some of the game's leading figures.

Football Federation Australia CEO David Gallop said that Milicic stood out from a high-calibre list of applicants.

"There was no shortage of exceptional Australian and international applicants interested in this elite role," he said.

"Ante’s intimate involvement with our National Teams Unit over the past five years ensured that he will commence the position with a clear understanding of the systems in place, and with sound relationships with key technical, backroom, and administrative staff already forged.

"Additionally, Ante is acutely aware of the level of detail required to prepare for and compete at a FIFA World Cup, as well as the demands that will come from not only the players, but many important stakeholders including the media, commercial partners, FIFA, and FFA.

"Having experienced two men’s World Cups in the past, that gives us confidence that Ante will be able to deal with the demands and lead the group with distinction."