Former Western Sydney Wanderers assistant coach Ante Milicic will lead the Matildas at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, the FFA confirmed today.
Milicic, who has been part of Australia’s national team coaching staff since 2014, has been appointed through to the completion of this year’s tournament, and will oversee his first three matches with the squad in the coming weeks when FFA hosts the inaugural Cup of Nations in Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne.
In addition to serving as assistant Coach at two 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 U23 National Team and was recently the Head Coach of the Young Socceroos.
Milicic’s full focus and time will now shift to the Matildas as he leads the team against Italy, Brazil, and Jamaica in Group C at the World Cup.
“It is an honour to be appointed Head Coach of the Westfield Matildas and I am determined to make the most of this opportunity together with the squad and staff,” Milicic said.
“As demonstrated throughout the W-League this season, 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.
"With three matches coming up in quick succession at the Cup of Nations, the friendly tournament will provide our group with the opportunity to set its standards both on and off the pitch as we look ahead to the FIFA Women’s World Cup with great belief and optimism,” he said.
FFA Chairman Chris Nikou said he believed Milicic will bring "tremendous qualities" to the post, despite never having coached women before.
“Ante [Milicic] has been involved in Australian football at the elite level for many years,” Nikou said. “While he is highly regarded from a technical standpoint, he is also exceptionally knowledgeable in the development and implementation of high-performance football environments, and understands the Australian sporting and football culture.
“FFA is delighted to provide Ante – who has served a long apprenticeship in the game at both club and national team level – with the opportunity to lead the Matildas in France."
FFA CEO David Gallop said Milicic "stood out from a high-calibre list of applicants keen to secure the prestigious position".
He added: “There was no shortage of exceptional Australian and international applicants interested in this elite role.
"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 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."