The expectations are high for the Matildas this summer; there will be a lot of eyes on them in France to see if they can prove their worth as a first-time Pot 1 team. This status means that, based on FIFA rankings, Australia will be considered the favorite to finish atop their group, cast into this category alongside major women’s soccer powers France, Germany, England, Canada, and the United States. Luckily, the Matildas have the talent, athleticism, and experience to live up to the reputation that they have worked so hard to build over the past few years. However, unfortunately for Ante Milicic, the capability of the Australian women will leave the blame to fall on the last minute coaching change.
Ante Milicic is definitely a qualified football coach, having previously acted as head coach to the Australian U-23 men’s side and assistant coach to both the Socceroos and two A-League teams. The pressing question, though, is how Milicic will measure up as a women’s football coach. With no experience coaching women, Milicic presents the Matildas with an additional challenge to the normal struggle of adjusting to a new head coach. At face, this seems like all too much growing and adapting in so little time; however, the squad’s performances in their preparatory matches seem to suggest otherwise. The Matildas have appeared as strong and cohesive as ever, and all signs point to the team being ready to dominate come June. However, if for some reason their World Cup showing does not live up to the predictions, Ante Milicic will no doubt be the victim of a lot of criticism. To add to the pressure, Milicic’s contract is up for revision at the end of the summer, and a solid run in France would likely secure his role as the Matildas head coach going forward.
Read more on the controversial coaching change under Team History
“Australia appoints Ante Milicic to lead Matildas to World Cup”. ESPN, 17 February 2019. http://www.espn.com/soccer/australia/story/3777834/australia-appoints-ante-milicic-to-lead-matildas-to-world-cup