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Soccer - Australia coach Milicic gets one-year extension

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MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia women’s coach Ante Milicic has been given a one-year contract extension that will see him in charge until the completion of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics campaign, Football Federation Australia said on Friday.

Milicic, appointed in February as a caretaker to replace the sacked Alen Stajcic, will oversee the Matildas’ bid to qualify for Tokyo early next year and coach them through the 12-nation Olympic tournament, if successful.

“There is no greater privilege than leading an Australian National Team so I am honoured to serve the Westfield Matildas for a further 12 months,” Milicic said in an FFA media release.

“The continuity this will foster can only benefit the belief and preparation leading into the Women’s World Cup campaign in France, but more importantly I think it demonstrates the deep belief that I have in this special group of players.”

His predecessor Stajcic was sacked after presiding over a “toxic” culture, according to the FFA, but Milicic had generated only positive feedback, the governing body said.

“Ante has been working in our national teams space since 2014 and we were confident when we appointed him to the Westfield Matildas post that he would do a great job,” FFACEO David Gallop said.

“However, the feedback that we have received from those closest to the team over the past three months has been resoundingly positive and helped guide our decision to extend his appointment.”

One of Milicic’s assistant coaches, Ivan Jolic, had also had his contract extended for the same period, FFA said.

Milicic will return to Australia next week to name his 23-player squad for the World Cup before heading off to a training camp in Turkey from May 19 as the Matildas prepare for Group C opponents Italy, Brazil and Jamaica.

Australia play the Netherlands in a World Cup warmup in Eindhoven on June 1 before their first group match against Italy on June 9 in France.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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