• The Matildas celebrate their victory over Chile (AAP)Source: AAP
The hunt for a new Matildas coach is set to go into overdrive, with FFA’s head of national teams Luke Casserly heading up the quest for a candidate with FIFA Women’s World Cup experience.
By
Dave Lewis

21 Jan 2019 - 9:04 PM  UPDATED 21 Jan 2019 - 9:04 PM

It’s a proviso which could rule out early front-runner Joe Montemurro, who is enjoying stunning success with the Arsenal women’s team but does not have an international track record.

The successor to the sacked Alen Stajcic will be made initially on an interim basis, with France 2019 just five months away, and the Matildas’ rank and file having a say on who ultimately gets the gig.

The FFA board expects to have a recommendation from Casserly - who masterminded the head-hunting of Bert van Marwijk for last year’s FIFA World Cup - by early February.

It’s understood that legendary former Germany player and head coach Silvia Neid is on a provisional list of sought-after names.

Neid, 54, led Germany to Women's World Cup glory in 2007 and Olympic gold in 2016 to cap off her nine year tenure.

Also on the hit-list is Czech Jitka Klimkova, currently calling the shots with the United States Under-20s women’s team.

She has local knowledge, having piloted Canberra United to a Premiership-Championship double in the first of a two-year spell between 2012-13, and led the Czech Republic’s Under-18s women’s team as well as New Zealand’s Under-17s.

Another is Japan’s Norio Sasaki, the ex-player-turned coach who spearheaded his nation to triumph at the 2011 Women's World Cup. 

The two-time East Asian Championship winner also steered Japan to silver at the 2014 Olympics and a second Women's World Cup final against the US in 2015.

He stepped down in 2016, having missed out on the Olympics and has coached against Australia on a number of occasions - as was the case with van Marwijk prior to his Socceroos appointment following the resignation of Ange Postecoglou.

Were he to be appointed, Sasaki could potentially stay on to lead Australia at the 2020 Olympic Games.

Another in the mix is the Netherlands’ Vera Pauw, who has had previous stints in charge of Scotland, the Netherlands, Russia, and South Africa. 

She was most recently at the helm with Houston Dash in the NWSL, and fits the criteria of significant international know-how. She has coached some of Australia’s US-based brigade.

England’s Laura Harvey, coach of NWSL side Utah Royals FC, is another on the radar with a CV that includes head coaching roles in the UK and USA, having initially carved out a successful career in clubland with Birmingham and the Arsenal women’s team.

The one-time England Under-23s coach was appointed head coach of the United States’ Under-23s in 2017 after a four-year spell at the helm of Seattle Reign, and is a former NWSL Coach of the Year, the FA Coach of the Year and FIFA World Coach of the Year finalist.

Former France and China women’s coach Bruno Bini, 64, might also be looked at. He parted company with China in 2017 after two years in the top job.

The successful applicant will be charged with uniting a seemingly disaffected group of players and, according to one highly placed source, rebuilding respect, integrity, openness and honesty, as well as providing a safe and healthy work place.

FFA are keen to move on quickly from Stajcic’s dismissal which, in large part, was down to what CEO David Gallop and the board deemed was his sanctioning of what amounted to a toxic environment.

Separate confidential reports conducted by the PFA, and even more significantly Our Watch, detailed an alleged culture of bullying, homophobic remarks, fat shaming, fear and intimidation.

A drop off in form also played a part in Stajcic’s demise.

The commercial - in confidence terms - of Stajcic’s payout has precluded any specifics from being aired publicly.

However, the social media support he’s received from the core of the playing group suggests the tide may not have turned against him quite as radically as has been suggested.