Matildas coaching contender Joe Montemurro is convinced a European-honed, hard-nosed contingent of Australians will peak perfectly for the FIFA 2023 Women’s World Cup on home soil.
Ideally placed to assess the progress of a 22-strong battalion of Matildas scattered across the continent - 11 in the FA Women’s Super League alone - Montemurro has no doubt they’re in the right place, at the right time.
The Arsenal Women coach has recruited the trio of Caitlin Foord, Steph Catley and Lydia Williams, and with his familiarity of both the W-League and UK landscapes, he has as much inside knowledge and acumen as the FFA will ever need as they decide who to fill the void left by Ante Milicic.
One of four candidates on a shortlist that also includes Chelsea coach Emma Hayes, Italian Carolina Morace and Swede Tony Gustavsson,
Montemurro believes the exposure to top level competition now being enjoyed by the likes of Sam Kerr (Chelsea), Ellie Carpenter (Lyon), Emily van Egmond (West Ham), Alanna Kennedy (Tottenham), Hayley Raso (Everton) and Chloe Logarzo (Bristol City) will take them all to another level.
“The good thing, for me, is that all these new arrivals in the UK and Europe are not just squad players, they’re in and around the starting elevens,” Montemurro told The World Game.
“They haven’t been brought in to make up the numbers anywhere and they’re going to be at, or around their best, when the next World Cup rolls around.
“We’re talking quality international players here, who are now playing in the toughest leagues in the world where I fully expect to see most of them go up another notch or two.
“The week-to-week intensity is something many of them won’t be too familiar with and the level of professionalism, for example in the WSL, is tremendous.
“This type of preparation is going to vital for the national team in a couple of years time when it matters most.
“I fully expect that with the advantage of playing on home soil, they’ll take all the knowledge and experience they’re gaining right now and give it a massive shake.”
Montemurro, who has won two trophies in three years at Arsenal, likens the current Matildas squad to the Socceroos ‘golden generation’ of 2006, where greats like Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka, Tim Cahill, Mark Schwarzer and Lucas Neill graced the Premier League and Mark Bresciano and Vince Grella straddled Serie A.
“There’s definitely a parallel there in terms of the numbers and quality we have in the women’s game now mixing it with the best, just as the men did 15 years or so ago,” he added.
“The Socceroos of that era were all respected players in Europe who more than held their own in top leagues - the same is now happening with the women. It’s exciting times for Australia.”
Whether Montemurro gets to lead a group of players he clearly has admiration for is yet to be decided.
He declined to comment when asked if he was in talks with FFA, saying only: “Coaching your country, if the chance comes along, would be something you’d have to look at.
“But I’m fully focused on Arsenal and continuing to do a job here at a great club and with great people and players around me.”
Having led Arsenal to the WSL title in 2018-2019, Montemurro has enjoyed a blistering start to the new season, with 6-1 and 9-1 wins over Reading and West Ham setting the standard others will have to emulate.