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FFA prefer Australian to lead Matildas at World Cup

FFA Board chairman Chris Nikou Source: FFA

An Australian coach is the preferred option to replace Alen Stajcic as Matildas boss, Football Federation Australia Chairman Chris Nikou has revealed.

The governing body will today be releasing their criteria for sacked coach Alen Stajcic’s replacement with Nikou and the board determined to name a local grown option.  

Australian football is still reeling from the shock termination of Matildas head coach Stajcic just five months away from Australia competing at the 2019 World Cup in France.

Under his tutelage the Matildas had reached a record fourth place in the FIFA rankings and with global superstar Sam Kerr leading the line, were one of the favourites heading into football’s pinnacle tournament.

However, a report based on confidential surveys conducted by the Professional Footballers Association and Our Watch led the FFA to determine that the team environment was unsatisfactory and a change in leadership was required.

In the mix to replace Stajcic is Arsenal Women's head coach Joe Montemurro, as well as W-League duo Heather Garriock (Canberra United) and Mel Andreatta (Brisbane Roar).

Speaking exclusively to The World Game, FFA Chair Chris Nikou said one of the governing body’s preference is replacing Stajcic with another local coach.

“You get into that debate and philosophically it would be nice if it’s an Australian,” he said.

 “They understand the culture and the psyche, but I am not going to rule anyone in or out.

“I want the best coach male or female. Again there is no predetermined criteria there, just who can get the best out of this group.”

Nikou revealed the criteria for the new Matildas head coach may be released as early as today, despite the lack of clarity on why Stajcic was initially sacked.

“Our motivation now, and we will announce this very shortly, maybe even today, is the criteria and the process for the next Matildas coach,” he said.

“So we will move very quickly to make an appointment and I think it’s very important to do that.

“I understand people’s frustrations because they’d like a definitive position on it but unfortunately the reality is we have legal complications and we are restricted in what we can say.

“The decision was not taken lightly and it’s what the board, together with management, think is the right decision for this group.”

The subsequent fallout has led to accusations of a gender conspiracy involved in Stajcic’s departure with allegations that his sacking was orchestrated so a female coach would be appointed.

Nikou denied any of those claims were true.

“I’m not going to delve in who said this that and the other because a lot of it is just simply wrong. I look at it and say that’s just not right,” he said.

Since Stajcic’s sacking many of the Matildas have expressed shock, dismay and support for their fallen mentor.

Nikou denied the decision to sack a popular coach just five months short of competing at the Women's World Cup would be detrimental to the team’s chances at France 2019.

“Nothing has changed as a result of our decision to part with the senior coach,” he said.

“The reality is, it’s a very talented squad and in the right environment and with the football gods smiling on them I would expect them to go deep into the tournament.

“They have the Four Nations tournament coming up and that is an important hit out for them. It’s probably the last significant one in the competition space.

“They have got Korea, New Zealand and Argentina and if they get to play those teams who have different styles from different confederations then that should be good preparation for what is in stall in France.”