Matildas will be on the attack at Fifa World Cup

The Matildas’ gung-ho approach against world champions USA in their 5-3 defeat this month wasn’t a one-off. It’s here to stay. Coach Ante Milicic will defy his critics and double down on the all-attack mentality at June’s World Cup after liking what he saw in the Denver, Colorado friendly. “That’s the Australian way,” he told AAP.

Milicic’s renewal of the Matildas’ attacking licenses will be music to the ears of forwards Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord and Lisa De Vanna. They each scored in the eight-goal spectacular and, with confidence high, will back themselves to out-gun any opponent in France.

“The way this team will play while I’m in charge will always be to attack and go for a win. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is, home or away,” Milicic said. “I believe in this group of players. They’re footballers. They want to have the ball and I want us to have the ball. That’s the football I want to play: to dominate, to get as many touches and involve as many players as possible, to go and attack teams. I’m not the type to sit back and let the opposition come at us, soak it up and take all the pressure. I’d rather us have a go.”

Milicic’s approach mimics the style his biggest coaching influence, former Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou, attempted to implement as boss of the men’s national side. Postecoglou too had plenty of critics but delivered Australia a first major trophy at the 2015 Asian Cup.

Having now settled on tactics and overseen a last friendly before picking his final squad of 23, Milicic isn’t likely to return to Australia. He will scout first-up opponent Italy’s best players from his base in Croatia.

The fastidious strategist will remain in constant contact with his coaching team in Australia, pouring over tapes and files to prepare for the the group stage and beyond. “I’ve got to start having a serious look at Italy now, their domestic league. I’ve got a few games pencilled in where their players are playing,” he said.

The Matildas are spread across the world in three groups. Alex Chidiac, Aivi Luik and Tameka Yallop are based in Europe, 13 play in America’s National Women’s Soccer League and the rest are in Australia training under Matildas staff.

Assistant Gary van Egmond will also take the Young Matildas, featuring potential World Cup bolter Mary Fowler, to Myanmar for continental qualifiers later this month before Milicic makes his final squad calls.


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