One game, one win! Familiarity starting to come for Milicic’s Matildas

One game, one win! Familiarity starting to come for Milicic’s Matildas

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Ante Milicic only met his Matildas players on Saturday. 

It is hardly the ideal preparation for any manager, let alone one one of a national team, male or female.

So Ange Postecoglou’s former Socceroos assistant had to spring into action immediately and get familiar with his charges.

He had just six days to get his players ready for their Cup Of Nations opener against New Zealand, and more importantly, to familiarise himself with them.

Though there were few doubts over Milicic’s meticulous coaching ability, there were some over his lack of coaching women’s teams, and indeed senior experience.

Indeed the pressure was always going to be high – and remains so – on Milicic following former manager Alen Stajcic’s sudden, controversial sacking.

But fears were allayed at Sydney’s Leichhardt Oval on Thursday night when the Matildas comfortably defeated the Football Ferns 2-0.

Emily Gielnik opened the scoring on the stroke of half time before comeback kid Hayley Raso completed her dream return to international football with a goal of her own.

“It was a good win for us and a good start to not only the tournament, but our final preparations towards the World Cup in France,” experienced defender Clare Polkinghorne reflected on Friday’s Daily Football Show.

“It was nice to get a win and nice to get a clean sheet. From a defender’s perspective, that’s very important.”

The Cup Of Nations signals the final straight for World Cup preparation with matches against South Korea and Argentina still to come before a friendly against the powerful USWNT in April.

It was a good start, but with a few chinks admittedly, so Milicic had better make the most of his time together with his new team.

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Polkinghorne said Milicic had hit the ground running.

“We haven’t had too many sessions together but they’ve all been positive and intense and very organised,” she said.

“I think that’s going to be reflected in the way we play.

“We want to be possession-based and control games and I think we did that for large portions of the game last night.”

The Matildas’ match against South Korea – ranked 14th in the world – will be played at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday before a trip to Melbourne to face Albicelestes.

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