Stajcic was sacked as Matildas coach in January. Picture: Octavio Passos/Getty Images
Stajcic was sacked as Matildas coach in January. Picture: Octavio Passos/Getty Images

Matildas star: We’ve dealt with Stajcic drama

ELISE Kellond-Knight has declared the Matildas aren't "wasting any time or emotions" on suggestions Alen Stajcic's sacking is linked to their Women's World Cup results.

And the defensive midfielder is embracing criticism of their Italy implosion, but equally can't wait to shut the media up by beating Brazil.

Australia lost their opening match 2-1 to less-fancied Italy and must now beat arch-rivals Brazil on Friday morning (AEST) to shore up their chances of simply progressing past the group stage, let alone going deep into the tournament.

And while the Matildas' performance and coach Ante Milicic's tactics has sparked intense backlash from some quarters, Kellond-Knight insisted her head didn't drop.

"In a way, I welcome it," she said.

"If people are going to have an opinion and talk about us, and think what they think about this team, it's good stuff.

"If people are talking about us, it's a positive. Now we just need to go out and produce the results.

"We can turn all that criticism into support pretty easily."

Midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight is confident the Matildas can hit back against Brazil at the Women’s World Cup. Picture: Getty Images
Midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight is confident the Matildas can hit back against Brazil at the Women’s World Cup. Picture: Getty Images

The narrative that just won't go away is the Stajcic saga, one that's followed the Matildas all the way to France with Heather Reid's pre-tournament apology and now her presence in the country.

Reid, Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop and chairman Chris Nikou will all be sweating on the Brazil result.

Kellond-Knight denied it had any effect on the team.

"Definitely not," she said.

"We dealt with that when it happened. We did take a week or two to process at the time.

"We knew what we had to achieve at this World Cup and we didn't waste any time or emotions dealing with it over a long period of time.

"It's fair that the media speculate about this and look at our recent results. It's easy to jump to conclusions.

"But it's not on our mind at all. We're happy in the environment that we're in and we believe in what we're trying to achieve."

Former Matildas coach Alen Stajcic. Picture: AAP
Former Matildas coach Alen Stajcic. Picture: AAP

Kellond-Knight preferred to use the word 'expectations' instead of 'criticism', reasoning the Matildas, the top-ranked team in their group for the first time, are suddenly fuelling hype about winning the tournament.

Does it affect the squad?

"It's tough to say," she said.

"It depends on the individual. If they're going to go out and read that type of stuff on media, maybe it's going to affect them mentally.

"I can say personally I don't read into it. I know what happens in our environment. I know what we're trying to achieve. I don't waste my energy on what's happening outside because they don't know what's happening on the inside.

"This is a must win, I'm excited. I'm the type of player who likes to play these big games if it's going to be like a final I'm even more up for it.

"We're going for the win and putting it all out there, and the win's going to also settle the media out there. It will hopefully shut them up a little bit."

News Corp Australia


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