Ante Milicic steps down as Matildas boss to honour Macarthur FC deal

Australia's Ante Milicic has stepped down from his position as head coach of the national women's team, the FFA confirmed on Sunday.

Milicic was installed as Matildas boss in February 2019, after the acrimonious departure of Alen Stajcic, and had agreed a deal that would have taken him through to the Tokyo Olympics.

After the Olympics, the former Socceroos striker was to become the inaugural coach of Macarthur FC in the A-League in 2021 -- an arrangement that would have now clashed with the Olympics given its postponement to next year due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

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"FFA respects Ante's decision to honour his contract with Macarthur FC," FFA CEO James Johnson said in a statement.

"Ante agreed to become Macarthur FC's inaugural head coach prior to last year's FIFA Women's World Cup, and while FFA extended his time with the Matildas following France after receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback from the players and staff, the unfortunate rescheduling of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to July-August next year has meant that a decision had to be reached.

"We would have loved Ante to remain in the role for Tokyo 2020 and beyond, however FFA and Ante agree that overseeing two elite teams is not a workable solution, with both programs deserving of, and requiring, complete focus."

The move will no doubt come as a surprise to many senior Matildas figures, with Caitlin Foord telling ESPN as late as May that she was "confident" Milicic would remain Australia's head coach.

"We're under the impression as a team that he will be taking us to the Olympics so we're just preparing as that happens," Foord said at the time.

"I think he got us to the Olympics so I think he should be the only one to take us but I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

"But I feel pretty confident that he'll take us through."

In June, Australia won the right to co-host the 2023 Women's World Cup, meaning Milicic's successor will most likely have a chance at coaching the Matildas at the tournament on home soil.