Milicic delighted with 'fantastic' Matildas after first-up win

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The Matildas have plenty of improvement in them but should look back on a 'fantastic' first-up performance, according to coach Ante Milicic.

Australia defeated New Zealand 2-0 in Sydney on Thursday night to begin their Cup of Nations campaign with a win.

More important than the victory was just getting back onto the pitch after a month dominated by the acrimonious departure of former coach Alen Stajcic.

At Leichhardt Oval, the Matildas showed few signs of nerves as Emily Gielnik and Hayley Raso got the goals to secure the result.

"What delighted me the most is the way they went about it. They tried to do everything we asked of them," Milicic said.

"When you've only worked with a team a few days, it's difficult to know how they're going to execute getting your principles across.

"When I look at just one performance I feel there's already a clear, distinct playing style and that was important.

"I was a little bit worried before the game with the nerves if that held them back a little bit.

"The girls were fantastic."

With just five days in camp, Milicic said he tried not to 'overload' his players with too many new ideas as they adapt to a new playing style and structure.

The front three, spearheaded by captain Sam Kerr, rotated positions, while the midfield three also swapped jobs at will.

Goalkeeper Lydia Williams kept her distribution short as part of a new focus on keeping the ball: almost as if Milicic was implementing the plan he also oversaw as Ange Postecoglou's No.2 while at the Socceroos.

"That's controlled possession. We want the ball and that's how our players enjoy themselves," he said.

"Our players are ball players, they're very comfortable.

"These girls are very good footballers and I think that's the Australian way, we want to dominate possession.

"We want the opposition to chase. I'm sure if you ask our players, they enjoyed that."

But did Milicic enjoy it?

"I've enjoyed it from the very first day," he said.

"I'm just happy for them. It hasn't been easy for them.

"I'm rapt for them because they're a great bunch."

Australia return to action in Brisbane on Sunday, when they will play Korea Republic - fresh from their own 5-0 defeat of Argentina in the tournament.

Source AAP