Sport Football Ex-Matilda wants decision made now on coach Ante Milicic for Olympics

Ex-Matilda wants decision made now on coach Ante Milicic for Olympics

Ante Milicic, with defender Alanna Kennedy in February, guided the Matildas to Olympic qualification. Photo: AAP
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Former Matildas star Kate McShea wants Ante Milicic’s future as Australia’s coach decided now to avoid another disrupted build-up to a major tournament for the team.

Milicic was set to take the Matildas to Tokyo this year before becoming the inaugural coach of A-League expansion club Macarthur FC for the 2020-21 season.

The decision to delay the Olympics by 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic has thrown Milicic’s future at the helm of the national team into doubt.

It’s unclear whether Milicic will now stay on as Matildas coach for the rescheduled Olympics as well as fulfil his duties with Macarthur or if the FFA will appoint a new coach.

McShea, who earned 73 caps for the Matildas from 2000 to 2009, believes a call has to be made to avoid similar disruption to Australia’s preparations as those brought on by Alen Stajcic’s controversial axing last year.

Stajcic was sacked just months before last year’s Women’s World Cup in France and 2000 Olympian McShea is convinced that disruption hurt the Matildas’ campaign.

“We don’t want another debacle like before the World Cup. It’s sooner rather than later (that) a call needs to be made,” McShea said.

“He’s got his contract to Macarthur … preparation-wise is he going to be able to commit to all of the camps?

“You can’t really see a full-time A-League coach being able to be a full-time Matildas coach at the same time, and them get the preparation that they need.”

McShea is also tipping senior Matildas, such as ex-Brisbane Roar teammates Clare Polkinghorne and Elise Kellond-Knight, to push on for at least another year to play at the rescheduled Olympics.

“It’s not like they’re bench players, they’re generally in the starting XI for Matildas,” said McShea, who played as a 17-year-old for Australia at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

“It’s really the unknown for everybody at the moment, so everyone’s sort of adapting but I think those sorts of players, an Olympics is something you keep going for.”

McShea is also hopeful the suspension of football due to the pandemic globally will refresh several key Matildas such as Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord and Chloe Logarzo after a hectic 18-month schedule of club and international football.

“This in a way could be a good mental break for all of them. They can reset and they’ve got more than 12 months to start focusing again,” she said.

“I know sometimes a break in a routine is a good thing for an athlete. Reset yourself, reset your goals and freshen up a little bit which I think the girls will take in their stride.”