FFA may have to look to men's game to find next Matildas coach, says former Australia ace

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Former Matildas ace Alicia Ferguson-Cook believes FFA may have to go back to the men's game to find a replacement for Ante Milicic as national team coach.

Milicic confirmed on Sunday he was quitting as Matildas coach to focus on his position as the inaugural boss of A-League expansion club Macarthur FC.

The ex-Socceroos striker was appointed Matildas mentor in early 2019 after the controversial sacking of Alen Stajcic, despite having no experience coaching in women's football.

He took the Matildas to the round of 16 of at the Women's World Cup in France last year and then successfully qualified for the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year.

His future, however, has been in doubt ever since the Olympics were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, having already accepted to take charge of Macarthur for their debut A-League campaign in 2020-21.

Milicic was forced to choose with the FFA not keen on having someone with split roles at the helm before a crucial period for the Matildas which includes next year's Olympics, the 2022 Asian Cup and then a World Cup on home soil in 2023.

Alicia Ferguson-Cook
Alicia Ferguson-Cook (L) in action for the Matildas against China
Getty Images

Ferguson-Cook, who made 66 appearances for Australia from 1997 to 2007, can see no issue appointing a new coach without women's football experience due to a dearth of obvious candidates from within the game.

"There's just not that many at that level," Ferguson-Cook told AAP.

"If you are going to get someone else it's probably going to be from the men's game like they did with Ante or it's going to be someone with less experience.

"That's another risk... they have to think about whether they want to take it or not."

The leading candidate for the position is Arsenal boss Joe Montemurro but it remains unclear if he would be willing to give up his role at the English giants for a national-team position.

An intriguing option for the FFA would be to tempt American Jill Ellis to Australia.

Ellis won two World Cups with the United States in a five-year stint but is available after stepping down from the American role after last year's tournament in France.

Locally, W-League premiership winner Mel Andreatta and W-League grand final winner Ante Juric are potential candidates.

Milicic's assistant Ivan Jolic and technical analyst Kate Cohen have also left their roles with the Matildas to join him at Macarthur, meaning a whole new coaching team will have to be found.

FFA has confirmed the process to find a new coach would start immediately.

"We expect there will be no shortage of interest in this prestigious role, particularly given all that the team has on the horizon," FFA chief executive James Johnson said.

Source AAP