The race for the vacant Matildas job is down to just two, with ex-USWNT assistant Tony Gustavsson and former Italy and Canada coach Carolina Morace going head-to-head.
An announcement from FFA is due early next week, with the Matildas playing group believed to favour Swede Gustavsson, the least high profile of a shortlist which previously also featured the FA Women’s Super League duo of Joe Montemurro (Arsenal) and Emma Hayes (Chelsea).
Currently on the coaching staff at top flight Swedish club Hammarby, Gustavsson is coming off back-to-back FIFA Women’s World Cup wins with the USA, where he worked alongside Jill Ellis, the original top target for the Matildas job.
The 47-year-old was tactically highly influential in helping Ellis formulate the battle plans which brought glory in 2016 and last year in France.
He had been in line for the top job with USWNT before being eclipsed by Ellis, who immediately appointed him her assistant in a collaboration which lasted five years.
A journeyman in his homeland during his playing days, he had a previous stint as the USA number two in 2012 under fellow Swede Pia Sundhage, the current head coach of Brazil.
His wealth of international acumen is seen as a big plus by Matildas players looking to go up a notch en route to the 2023 World Cup on home soil.
Gustavsson coached men’s teams Degerfors, Hammarby and Kongsvinger in his native Sweden, where he also spent two years moulding Tyreso FF into a force which reached the 2014 UEFA Women’s Champions League Final.
FFA chief executive executive James Johnson has orchestrated the recruitment process, along with an advisory panel composed of board members Mark Bresciano, Amy Duggan and Remo Nogarotto, along with former Matilda Sarah Walsh, and technical director Trevor Morgan.
With a final decision pending, it’s understood to have come down to the wire in making a determination between two candidates with competing attributes.
Perth-based Morace, 56, is more readily recognised than Gustavsson, and has broad support on the panel, whilst the players want a third successive male head coach after Ante Milicic and Alen Stajcic.
She is Italy’s second most capped player and led the Azzurri for five years - but hasn’t held a national job since a brief stint with Trinidad and Tobago three years ago.
Morace led Canada in a winless campaign at the 2011 Women's World Cup and her most recent senior role was with AC Milan's women's team, which she piloted to a second place finish in 2018.
The successful candidate will steer the Matildas through four major campaigns - the Tokyo (2021) and Paris (2024) Olympic Games, as well as the AFC Women's Asian Cup in 2022 and the trans-Tasman World Cup in 2023.
FFA is planning a Matildas training camp in November with the new coach at the helm.