Australian national women’s soccer coach Ante Milicic quits

SYDNEY (AP) — Ante Milicic has resigned as coach of the Australian women’s soccer team to concentrate on his job as A-League expansion club Macarthur FC’s inaugural coach.

The former Socceroos striker was named Matildas’ head coach in February of last year, taking over for Alen Stajcic after Stajcic was fired by Football Federation Australia a month earlier.

Milicic led Australia’s national team to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games and ít made the round of 16 at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France.

In May of 2019, he was announced as Macarthur FC coach on a three-year deal, with his tenure to commence at the conclusion of the Tokyo Olympics. However, the postponement of the games until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic forced Milicic to change those plans.

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Macarthur FC is due to begin play during the A-League’s 2020-21 season later this year.

FFA chief James Johnson on Sunday confirmed Milicic’s departure.

“FFA respects Ante’s decision to honor his contract with Macarthur FC,” Johnson said in a statement. “We would have loved Ante to remain in the role for Tokyo 2020 and beyond, However FFA and Ante agree that overseeing two elite teams is not a workable solution, with both programs deserving of, and requiring, complete focus.”

Milicic said he was disappointed to have to resign but felt he had to honor the commitment he made to the new A-League club.

“In an ideal world, we would have been in Japan right now just days away from the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” he said.

FFA will immediately start a search for a new national women’s coach.

The Matildas have the Olympics next year, the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup and the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 2023.

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