One of the greatest Australian performances: Milicic salutes Matildas

 theage.com.au  06/13/2019 23:43:48  2

"Under the circumstances�that we won the game the three points were a massive confidence booster for them.

"They never stopped believing, the coaching staff never stopped believing."

Matildas captain Sam Kerr (centre) celebrates during the match against Brazil.

Matildas captain Sam Kerr (centre) celebrates during the match against Brazil.Credit:EPA

Asked if he thought such an heroic performance in morale-boosting circumstances would shut down the "noise" that has buzzed around the Matildas in recent days, Milicic was hopeful rather than confident.

"I dont think it will ever go to bed because thats just Australian football these days, isnt it?" he said.

"If you get caught up listening to the thoughts and opinions of others, it just saps your energy. The staff were close together, the analysis and the preparation was first class  so credit to the staff.

"You could tell the girls were nervous, and thats understandable in the manner we lost the first game and the negative publicity that they received after that. There was a lot at stake today.

Matildas coach Ante Milicic passes the ball to Ellie Carpenter.

Matildas coach Ante Milicic passes the ball to Ellie Carpenter.Credit:AP

"I think in the end they really answered a few people  not only with the three points but also in the way we went about it. We kept on believing in our style and our principles. It was really an Australian performance to be proud of."

He hoped that the victory over the South American powerhouse would have a unifying effect, and paid tribute to the impact the players had had on his coaching style in such a short time.

Victorious: Chloe Logarzo celebrates the big win.

Victorious: Chloe Logarzo celebrates the big win.Credit:AP

"Hopefully this win tonight brings the country together," Milicic said.

"I always said that this job was a challenge and thats why I wanted to be part of it, this special group ... its definitely made me a better coach and its also opened up my experience even broader.

"These girls have been fantastic to work with, and these experiences just make you stronger. Im looking forward to keep building on our playing style and our principles and hopefully look forward to the next game where we can achieve a positive result."

Milicic never stopped believing, even when the Matildas fell two goals behind. But he acknowledged Caitlin Foord's strike on the stroke of the interval was a major game changer.

''I think the turning point for us was scoring on half-time. Thats massive  when you come into the change-round and you sense that youre still in the game," he said.

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''Even when we were 2-0 down I thought we were in control of the game. Unfortunately, a couple of transition moments and defending in wide areas and crossing we let ourselves down a little.

''But we scored just before half-time and I could sense in the dressing room that the girls felt that momentum was on our side.

''When I noticed that Marta and Formiga [two of Brazil's veteran stars] were off the field  I wouldnt say that was a positive for us, but maybe for the Brazilian team when two big players with such a presence are off the field, Im not sure how that affected their mentality.

''We dont lose our belief. If the team lost its belief, they dont come back from games like that.

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''Our confidence comes from our preparation. But most importantly we are not getting ahead of ourselves.

''Its only our first win. We will make a good analysis of this game, and we have an extra day before the Jamaica game so rest and recovery will be just as important.

"Well give the girls all the information possible so they are best prepared to achieve a positive result against Jamaica, and at the same time a performance that everyone can be proud of.

''As always we will go through our analysis, work through opposition strengths and weakness, and come up with a game plan that suits our playing style.''

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