After the sensational sacking of Matildas head coach Alen Stajcic on Saturday, thoughts have now turned to who could replace him.
With the Cup of Nations friendly tournament due to kick off in late February, FFA’s CEO David Gallop and Chairman Chris Nikou indicated in yesterday’s press conference that a coach will need to be found as soon as possible to lead the Matildas through those games.
Whether or not this coach will then stay on for the Women’s World Cup in June this year, and then the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, is unknown.
There are a number of local and international names that are being bandied about for the top job, with pros and cons to each.
We've drawn up a list of the coaches currently working within the W-League or have worked within the W-League recently, as well as coaches who have been involved with the Matildas set-up in various ways.
Gary Van Egmond
Van Egmond is the natural successor to Alen Stajcic, having been the Matildas assistant coach since 2015. As such, he is perfectly placed to carry the team into the upcoming tournaments with little disruption to style, tactics, or player roster. A former player himself (including Socceroos caps) and A-League manager of the Newcastle Jets, Van Egmond is familiar with major competitions at both national and international level. However, Van Egmond’s role in the Stajcic saga remains unclear – whether he will be asked to step aside as a result of continued investigations by FFA will clearly affect his chances at heading the Matildas.
Mel Andreatta has been the head coach of the Brisbane Roar W-League team since 2016, leading them to a Premiership in the 2017-18 season. She has also been involved in the Matildas set-up for several years, at first as assistant coach of the Junior Matildas, and then being invited to assist the senior Matildas as a technical analyst at the 2016 Rio Olympics through the FFA Female Coach Mentor Program. Andreatta’s familiarity with the W-League and Junior Matildas programs is a big bonus in terms of taking over the team on a long-term basis, as this is the crop of players from which the next generation of senior Matildas will be found. Saying that, her relative lack of experience coaching at senior international level could be a risky move so close to the Women’s World Cup.
Dower is the current head coach of the Australian u-17 women’s side, the Junior Matildas, having been appointed in 2017. Prior to this, Dower was the assistant coach and then head coach of W-League team Canberra United from 2014-2017, helping United to a Championship and a Premiership across her three years. Dower is still heavily involved in the W-League as a match-day commentator and analyst, and acts in a coaching mentor capacity for Football Queensland. Dower’s experience at both national and international level, as well as being chosen for various leadership and coaching conferences in Australia and overseas, suggests she is on FFA’s radar for taking over the senior Matildas gig sometime in the future. Whether or not Dower and the FFA are ready for that move to happen so soon is another matter entirely, as she is yet to have experience assisting or coaching a senior international women’s side.