The Australia women’s football team were hunting for a new coach Sunday after Ante Milicic quit in the wake of the Tokyo Olympics being pushed back a year.
The highly rated ex-Socceroos assistant was due to steer the Sam Kerr-led Matildas at Tokyo 2020 this month, but has decided not to continue after the Games were postponed for a year.
Milicic had been due to take up a three-year contract with new men’s A-League club Macarthur FC after the Olympics, which he said he would honour.
“I have enjoyed the past 18 months with the Matildas immensely and, 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.
“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic and the rescheduling of the Games has created the unenviable situation where people will assess whether I have chosen one team over another.
“Truth be told, I have simply chosen to honour the commitment I made to Macarthur over a year ago.”
Milicic, appointed in February 2019 after previous coach Alen Stajcic was sacked in controversial circumstances, oversaw the seventh-ranked Matildas’ qualification for the Olympics and steered them to the World Cup round of 16 last year.
Football Federation Australia chief James Johnson said he would “have loved” Milicic to stay but managing two teams at the same time was not workable.
A recruitment drive would begin immediately and “we expect there will be no shortage of interest in this prestigious role,” he added, with Australia due to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup alongside New Zealand.