Ex-Matildas coach Stajcic signs 3-year deal at Mariners

SYDNEY (AP) — Ex-Matildas coach Alen Stajcic has been appointed head coach of the Central Coast Mariners in Australia’s A-League less than four months after being fired from the top job with the national women’s team.

Stajcic took over as caretaker at the Mariners in March after Mick Mulvey was fired, but was unable to prevent the club placing last in the 10-team league for the third time in four seasons.

His new three-year deal was announced Thursday while Stajcic was in Europe on a player scouting trip. The Mariners finished with three wins from 27 games in the A-League in 2018-19.

“For us to become a successful club again, we need the support of the whole community and we need to show mental toughness and resilience to once again become the proud symbol of the Central Coast,” Stajcic said in a statement. “Now that I know that I am going to be here for the next three years we really need to set our mind on building this club.

“We all know that it’s been a tough few years and nostalgically we look back to the glory days, but we need to reflect on the past few years and think about how we can rebuild.”

Stajcic was fired as Matildas coach in January, reportedly because of a bad team culture. But senior players spoke publicly in support of him and Football Federation Australia has repeatedly refused to detail specifics of what areas he failed.

Ante Milicic was appointed interim head coach of Australia’s women’s team for the World Cup in the wake of the Stajcic’s contentious dismissal.

The Australian women’s team starts its tournament against Italy on June 9 and have other games against Brazil and Jamaica in Group C.