Milicic appointed interim coach of Australian women's team

Published Feb. 17, 2019 10:38 p.m. ET

SYDNEY (AP) — Ante Milicic has been appointed interim head coach of Australia's women's team for the World Cup in the wake of the Alen Stajcic's contentious dismissal.

Football Federation Australia announced Monday that Milicic would lead the Matildas until the end of their World Cup campaign. The Australians start their tournament against Italy on June 9 and have other games against Brazil and Jamaica in Group C.

Sixth-seeded Australia's preparations have been in disarray since Stajcic was fired last month by Football Federation Australia following a player survey that suggested problems under his leadership. No details have been released, and several star players have questioned the FFA's decision so close to the World Cup. Stajcic said he is considering legal action.

The 44-year-old Milicic will have international friendlies against New Zealand, South Korea and Argentina to prepare the team. He has been an assistant with the Australian men's team at the 2014 and 2108 World Cups.

FFA Chairman Chris Nikou said Milicic's involvement with national teams since 2014 was the key to his appointment.

"While he is highly regarded from a technical standpoint, he is also exceptionally knowledgeable in the development and implementation of high-performance football environments, and understands the Australian sporting and football culture," Nikou said. "FFA is delighted to provide Ante — who has served a long apprenticeship in the game at both club and national team level — with the opportunity to lead the Matildas in France."