Milicic: No need to tweak Matildas tactics
THE Matildas struggled at times to adapt to Ante Milicic's tactical approach in their opening World Cup match but the coach says he won't be changing things for the crunch clash against Brazil.
And the Matildas coach hopes the team are mentally strong enough to block out the recurrence of noise around former coach Alen Stajcic's sacking and deliver on World Cup expectations.
Milicic came in for significant criticism after Australia played a high defensive line in their opening 2-1 loss to Italy on Sunday night, an approach that did not directly contribute to the loss but resulted in two disallowed goals for offside.
"That's understandable," Milicic said. "At the same time, it's not now after one game that we're thinking we need to tweak things.
"We conceded from a set piece and we've been working on that all along. We work on our defensive structure. We could have executed that a little bit better.
"We are working on these things. It's taken a little bit more time than expected. The girls understand. The information is clear. We're looking to make it right against Brazil."
To do that the Matildas must, to put it obviously, score more goals than they concede, which means capitalising on chances more ruthlessly than their zero-goal return from 16 shots against Italy.
Helping immeasurably would be getting Elise Kellond-Knight back in holding midfield, though Milicic wouldn't be drawn on whether her increased minutes would come from a starting spot or off the bench.
Worryingly, Lisa De Vanna also has a cork while Clare Polkinghorne complained of hamstring tightness and Caitlin Foord pulled up sore, but the coach was confident all three would be fine to back up.
If Polkinghorne is not, Milicic may start Steph Catley in central defence alongside Alanna Kennedy and look at an alternative left-back option in one of Gema Simon, Amy Harrison or even uncapped late call-up Karly Roestbakken.
Youngster Mary Fowler didn't train with the main group but showed progress on return from her own hamstring issue.
Milicic said he was too busy to pay attention to persistent questions around how and why Stajcic was removed as coach in January, though acknowledged its potential impact on the squad.
"Can these 23 girls block out all of the outside noise? Are they mentally strong enough to do that? I hope they are, and in the end time will tell," Milicic said.
"I am really proud of them. They have gone through a lot, it hasn't been easy for them to put themselves in this situation.
"Everything that's occurred around this group ... I said when I took over this job my main focus is to try to shift the focus on the football and on playing, and I know it's difficult for them, but I really hope that in the next couple of games they can show what kind of a great team they really are."