Matildas deny coach woe
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 12, 2019 themercury.com.au SUBSCRIPTIONS 1300 696 397 SENIOR Matildas have dismissed the notion that their coaching switch-up from Alen Stajcic to Ante Milicic is a pall over their World Cup hopes.
Australia’s 2-1 loss to Italy has drawn frenzied criticism of the team, which faces a huge clash with heavyweight Brazil on Friday morning in Montpellier, needing a result to ensure their qualifying fate stays in their hands.
There’s plenty on the line — not least because of the expectation that comes with being a top-seeded nation at the World Cup for the first time.
But leaders Alanna Kennedy and Elise Kellond-Knight are not willing to cop the idea that Stajcic’s ousting is to blame for their first-up wobble.
“He’s not in our camp. And his name isn’t either,” Kennedy said. “We don’t let that sort of stuff creep into our camp. That’s not our focus at all.”
Kellond-Knight welcomed criticism of the team but scoffed at the suggestion Stajcic’s dismissal was a black cloud that hadn’t gone away.
“We dealt with that when it happened. We did take a week or two to process, a week or two at the time.
“We knew what we had to achieve at this World Cup and we didn’t waste any time or emotions dealing with it over a long period of time.
“It’s fair that the media speculate about this and look at our recent results. It’s easy to jump to conclusions.
“But it’s not on our mind at all. We’re happy in the environment that we’re in and we believe in what we’re trying to achieve.”
Stajcic was dismissed by FFA in January with the governing body alleging a toxic culture over the side.
The 45-year-old, now in charge of A-League side Central Coast, considered his legal options in the wake of the ousting before reaching a settlement two weeks ago.
He received an apology from FFA deputy chair Heather Reid, now on leave with cancer.
During the saga, KellondKnight said the team was not going to let frenzied talk outside of the team bubble erode their confidence.
“Within this environment, we’re very happy with things, how they’re progressing and we believe in what we’re trying to achieve,” she said. “[The Brazil game] is a must-win. I’m the type of player who likes to play these big games.”