Ante Milicic has three weeks to decide whether to lead the Matildas to the Olympics and FIFA Women’s World Cup, or stay the course with A-League newcomers Macarthur Bulls.
With the 2023 women’s football showpiece now locked in on home soil, high on the agenda at the next FFA board meeting in mid-July will be the question of who will lead the Matildas into combat over the next three years.
The job is there for the taking for incumbent Milicic - who took charge after the acrimonious dismissal of Alen Stajcic 18 months ago.
But that would mean walking away from a three-year Bulls contract worth an estimated $1.4 million.
FFA wouldn’t be able to match those figures - but with two massive tournaments on the horizon and job stability to match, the 46-year-old former Socceroos assistant faces making a tough call.
With continuity in mind, Matildas players want Milicic to stay whilst Macarthur director Sam Krslovic told The World Game during the week he expects Mililic to honour his Bulls deal.
All of which leaves Milicic - who has yet to publicly clarify his position - pulled by opposing forces.
“He’s in an unenviable position at the moment,” said a prominent national teams source.
“A lot of people are asking ‘what does this (hosting the World Cup) mean for Ante Milicic.
“He’s going to be in a bit of angst over this and is bound to be feeling a bit torn and conflicted.
“It’s a tricky situation for him but he has a decision to make.
“Macarthur are due to start training on September 1 and they need to know whether or not he’s going to be with them. He can’t do both jobs.
“So does he start with them or does he cut it clean and let them get on with finding a replacement?”
The source said FFA would be looking for clarify Milicic’s intentions “sooner rather than later”, with the July meeting looming as crunch time.
“This has all been brought about in the first place by the Olympics being shelved until 2021 by COVID-19,” added the source.
“There will also be pressure from the players for him to stay. Whatever happens a decision needs to be made because FFA will need to start the recruitment process if Ante isn’t going to be there.”
It’s understood that FFA wouldn’t be in a position to offer Milicic in excess of $350,000-a-year, and it’s unlikely the Matildas will be back in action again before November.
However, the kudos of the role might outweigh purely financial imperatives.
Milicic is believed to be working part-time still for FFA during the coronavirus shutdown, whilst officially also contracted to Macarthur.
Unmoved by the speculation, Krslovic insisted: “I expect Ante to be coach of the Macarthur Bulls - he has a contract and he’s an honourable man.