Matil­das deny coach woe

Mercury (Hobart) - - SOCCER -

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.”

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