Ante Milicic will be head coach of the Australian women’s football team – the Westfield Matildas – for the whole of their 2020 Summer Olympics campaign.
Football Federation Australia has announced that Milicic, who took charge of the team in February this year ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, had been given a one-year contract extension.
The 45-year-old Australian, who played for Sydney United, NAC Breda in the Netherlands and Croatia’s NK Rijeka, will oversee Australia’s bid to qualify for Tokyo 2020 early next year, and, if that proves successful, will guide the Matildas at the 12-nation tournament in Japan.
One of Milicic’s assistant coaches, Ivan Jolic, has also had his contract extended for the same period.
"There is no greater privilege than leading an Australian national team so I am honoured to serve the Westfield Matildas for a further 12 months,” Milicic told the FFA.
“The continuity this will foster can only benefit the belief and preparation leading into the Women’s World Cup campaign in France, but more importantly I think it demonstrates the deep belief I have in this special group of players.
“Personally, I want to join the players on this journey.
“I know that I can help them achieve something special for themselves not only individually, but for this team and for Australian football,” he said.
Milicic will return to Australia next week to name his 23-player squad for this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, and from May 19 will be in camp in Turkey with his selections as the Matildas prepare for Group C opponents Italy, Brazil, and Jamaica.
Football Federation Australia (FFA) chief executive David Gallop explained that feedback from the squad had played a part in the decision to extend Milicic’s tenure with the team.
“Ante has been working in our national teams space since 2014 and we were confident when we appointed him to the Westfield Matildas post that he would do a great job,” Gallop said.
“The feedback that we have received from those closest to the team over the past three months has been resoundingly positive and helped guide our decision to extend his appointment.
“We are excited that Ante will be back on home soil to name Australia’s squad for the Women’s World Cup next week and believe that everyone connected with football in Australia has much to look forward to over the next year as the Matildas strive to make their mark at both the Women’s World Cup and the Olympics.”
The FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 will kick-off on June 7, with Australia facing Italy in their first match.