Matildas to host China in Adelaide and Sydney

Former Matildas coach Ante Milicic is proud of the role he has played in leading a national women’s team he believes is “taking Australian football forward”.

Now in charge of China, Milicic will face his former club when the Matildas host the Steel Roses on Friday night at Adelaide Oval and on Monday at Accor Stadium in Sydney.

And while he hopes to engineer the Australians’ downfall, Milicic is thrilled with the Matildas’ boom in popularity and their success in reaching the semi-finals of last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup on home soil.

“They changed Australian football,” said Milicic, who coached the Matildas for a 17-month period from February 2019 to July 2020.

“They kind of carry Australian football on their shoulders and I couldn’t be prouder of the direction they’ve taken.

“I am very happy for the girls because they deserve to be in the situation they are in, for the results they have achieved, but also individually as players, for the way their careers have gone.”

Milicic said that when he was manager of the Matildas, players were in a “comfort zone” in terms of their careers at the club.

“It was a year and a half in Australia, a year and a half in America, it was summer, he spoke English, he dominated those leagues, and I really felt that the team, as individuals, as players, needed to take that step into Europe,” he said. said.

“If you look now… how many of these players are dominating (in Europe), and that puts them in a scenario where they can bring that club form into the national team, and at the same time the levels of professionalism have also increased. “

The former Socceroos striker said it was a “privilege” for China to play against a Matildas team preparing for the Paris Olympics, which start in July.

Current Matildas boss Tony Gustavsson said “about 14 or 15” places in Australia’s 18-player Olympics squad are “locked up”.
He said a “question mark” remains over the fitness of key midfielder Katrina Gorry, who was not selected in this squad due to an ankle injury.

“The other (three or four) places are up for grabs and there are a lot of players competing for them – that’s the difficult part,” Gustavsson said.

“The worst part of being a coach is having to tell someone at the end of the week that they won’t be making the Olympics.

“We’ve had almost four years to prepare in terms of understanding the players we have. I’ve had this team for a long time now.

“The match (on Friday) represents a huge step forward in the preparation for the Olympics and not only from the point of view of individual selection but also for the preparation of the team.

“We don’t have many games left to prepare for the Olympics.”

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