New Matildas coach Ante Milicic has faced the media to name his first squad for the Cup of Nations, saying he was unconcerned about the turmoil that came before his appointment.
Milicic announced a 23-player squad for the four-team tournament which begins on February 28.
Australia will face Argentina, South Korea and New Zealand in the Cup of Nations, ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup which starts in France in early June.
The Matildas will head to Brisbane this weekend for a four-day training camp ahead of the tournament.
Squad: Tegan Allen, Laura Alleway, Mackenzie Arnold, Tameka Butt, Eliza Campbell, Ellie Carpenter, Steph Catley, Alex Chidiac, Lisa De Vanna, Caitlin Foord, Emily Gielnik, Princess Ibini, Elise Kellond-Knight, Alanna Kennedy, Samantha Kerr, Chloe Logarzo, Aivi Luik, Teresa Polias, Clare Polkinghorne, Hayley Raso, Gema Simon, Emily Van Egmond, Lydia Williams.
Milicic, a former Socceroo who had been involved in the Australian men’s team coaching set-up since he was brought in under Ange Postecoglou in 2014, was named on Monday as the interim coach of the women’s national team following the sacking of Alen Stajcic.
Milicic has been contracted to take charge of the Matildas until the end of Australia’s involvement in the World Cup.
Asked about the challenge of moving into the women’s team, he replied: “It’s a transition that I’m very comfortable with. The rules are the same. Men’s and women’s [teams]. I’m not the first to move across.”
He said he was very excited to have the opportunity to go to another World Cup, after his time with the Socceroos.
“I can’t change the way this journey has started, but after today I can have an impact on how it ends,” he said.
“I’m very confident and it’s a great honour to go to another World Cup with this great side.
“I’m coming in with fresh eyes … I have been around Australian sporting teams for while and I know what the environment should be.”
He had not yet spoken to most of the squad, saying he preferred to do things face to face once everyone was in camp.
Milicic said he was not concerned about what had happened before his arrival with the team.
“I go back to the fact it is in the past and we have to move forward … coaches come and go,” he said.
“My job is to focus on what is in front of me and what I can control.”
Gallop rules out review of sacking decision
FFA chief executive David Gallop was quizzed about the sacking of Stajcic, but said the FFA stood by the decision and ruled out any review or inquiry.
“The board has said they have made a decision. There won’t be a review of the decision,” Gallop said.
He acknowledged the decision to remove Stajcic had not been an ideal situation ahead of a major tournament like the Women’s World Cup.
“You don’t take a decision to change coaches unless you’ve got good reason … this has been particularly difficult. I acknowledge that,” he said.
Last month, the FFA announced the sacking of Stajcic, claiming the culture of the team had deteriorated.
At the time Gallop said two controversial surveys had revealed problems in “workplace culture, workplace environment, the set-up of the Matildas and our confidence of where they’re at just months out from the World Cup”.
However, Stajcic spoke earlier this month, saying he was considering legal action and calling for an independent inquiry.
Stajcic rejected the FFA claims, saying his reputation had been damaged and he was “in the dark about exactly how the FFA arrived at the decision to terminate” his employment.
Stajcic became Matildas coach in 2014 after replacing Hesterine de Reus, who was sacked after falling foul of senior players.
She was replaced by Stajcic, who oversaw thrilling runs to the quarter-finals of the 2015 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.