Milicic set to make first Matildas outing


Ante Milicic will speak publicly for the first time as Matildas coach on Thursday, unveiling his squad for the upcoming Cup of Nations.

The 44-year-old was announced on Monday as the replacement for Alen Stajcic, who was contentiously sacked last month as part of a cultural review into the national women's team.

Milicic's emergence will prompt the latest round of questioning and soul-searching following Stajcic's departure, but the new coach is steering clear of the drama and immersing himself in the new job.

He will speak with media for the first time about his role in Brisbane.

Milicic has barely given himself a moment's rest since returning to Australia from his base in Croatia.

He's poured over the tapes from previous Matildas outings and recent W-League matches in order to pick his first squad.

The 23-woman group won't feature mainstays Kyah Simon and Katrina Gorry, both ruled out due to injury.

But it will have Hayley Raso, who will complete a remarkable comeback from a broken back last year to resume her international career.

The squad will represent a balance between the Matildas core that has taken them to become the world's sixth-ranked team, and high performing players from the W-League this season.

Australia have three matches in a week; against New Zealand in Sydney on February 28, South Korea in Brisbane on March 3 and Argentina in Melbourne on March 6.

The selected Matildas will travel to Brisbane for their training camp on Saturday, and it's only then that Milicic will speak to his players for the first time.

The new coach has decided against communicating with his side until he can do so face-to-face.

The Cup of Nations tournament is modelled on similar invitational events hosted in the United States; the SheBelieves Cup, which will run concurrently to the Australian competition, and the Tournament of Nations.

It was at the latter event in 2017 when the Matildas had enjoyed a breakthrough defeat of world No.1 USA.

Tameka Butt's goal earned Australia a first win over the world champions in 28 attempts.

Source AAP