Matildas vow coach sacking will not disrupt World Cup bid

Sydney (AFP) –


The Australian women's national football team vowed Tuesday to remain focused on their World Cup aspirations despite the shock sacking of coach Alen Stajcic.

Football Federation Australia dumped Stajcic on Saturday just five months from the World Cup over concerns about "workplace" and "player welfare" issues.

The women's national side, known as the Matildas, on Tuesday thanked Stajcic for his tenure and his "strong" advocacy for women's football.

"We, the Matildas, would like to acknowledge it's been a difficult time for everyone involved," the team said in a statement via players association Professional Footballers Australia.

"It's important for us now to stay focused on our common goal, which remains winning the World Cup 2019."

FFA chief David Gallop at the weekend said he had lost faith in the 45-year-old coach, but calls have grown for a more detailed explanation of the sudden dismissal.

The FFA's own newly established Women's Council said it was not consulted or made aware of the decision.

Stajcic's removal followed two recent confidential FFA surveys to evaluate the team environment and culture, along with interviews involving players and staff.

Gallop told reporters Monday he had met with the Matildas playing group after the decision and said he stressed that the termination was not just based on the surveys but also on a "range of reasons and a range of information".

The FFA are aiming to secure a replacement in the next two weeks to allow the squad to prepare for the Cup of Nations tournament on home soil ahead of the World Cup.

"Our belief within this group is unbreakable and we will continue to challenge ourselves and each other along this journey," the Matildas said.

The Cup of Nations will see the Matildas take on Argentina, South Korea and New Zealand in late February and early March.

The women's World Cup takes place in France in June and July.