Ante Milicic can’t wait for his first game in charge of the Matildas.
Ante Milicic can’t wait for his first game in charge of the Matildas.

Milicic took Matildas advice from best brains in game

New Matildas boss Ante Milicic revealed that 90 per cent of people warned him against taking the "risk", but was convinced after dialogue with his two main coaching mentors.

Ange Postecoglou and Tony Popovic both encouraged Milicic to take on what most regarded a poisoned chalice, amid the turmoil of the Alen Stajcic sacking.

And Milicic revealed that the players have exceeded his high expectations of them in his maiden camp ahead of Thursday's Cup of Nations opener against New Zealand in Sydney.

 

The 44-year-old, who served the bulk of his coaching apprenticeship with Popovic in Western Sydney's fairytale debut and Postecoglou with the Socceroos, said he did not allow the majority of the advice to sway his decision.

"90 per cent of people that text me said it's a risk, why would you do it? It made me want to do it more, made me more determined,'' Milicic said.

"Unless you get out of your comfort zone, it's very difficult to achieve something special.

"Importantly, I spoke to some people that know me very well as a person and a coach, that was the clincher. I spoke to Popa, who knows me very well, and he was positive about it and his feelings were strong that it was a good opportunity - so that meant a lot.

"If there was a defining moment to say yes I want the job, it was the exchanges I had with Ange.

 

Ante Milicic gives Sam Kerr instructions at training.
Ante Milicic gives Sam Kerr instructions at training.

"Ange is always about doing what challenges you, doing what gets you out of your comfort zone - have that forward thinking positive mindset, never take a backward step.

"The words he had for me were positive and he made it quite clear that it would be a great challenge for me and he felt that I could do a good job and he supports me. That meant a lot for me."

Milicic revealed his first message to the squad headlined by Sam Kerr, Steph Catley, Lydia Williams and Alanna Kennedy, was not shying away from the large shadow which lingers from the botched handling of the Stajcic's sacking.

"We can't change the way this journey has started. From today, we can have an impact on how the journey will end,'' he said.

"We have to move forward - this is too big a tournament to look into the past.

 

Ante Milicic worked with Ange Postecoglou with the Socceroos.
Ante Milicic worked with Ange Postecoglou with the Socceroos.

"I've been in football a long time - these situations occur. It's how you respond. These girls realise there's an opportunity here you don't get often in your careers.

"My job is to get them to focus on the football and achieving some special memories come June."

Milicic, who has been an assistant coach at two World Cups, was effusive in his praise of the players.

"Very positive. It's a group that wants to learn, improve, very capable of not only taking in information but executing and the intensity has been very high,'' Milicic said.

"I had high expectations, but it's even exceeded those. The response, I couldn't have asked for any more."

News Corp Australia


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