Milicic takes charge of Australia U-23 squad
Sydney: Football Federation Australia (FFA) has appointed Socceroos assistant coach Ante Milicic to take charge of Australia’s U-23 squad at next year’s AFC U-23 Championships in China.
Recently former Socceroos assistant coach Josep Gombau received FFA’s blessing to stand down from the position of Australia U-23 head coach to take on the role of head coach at Western Sydney Wanderers FC in the A-League.
With the Socceroos’ place at next year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia now sealed, FFA confirmed that Milicic, himself a former Socceroo, will oversee Australia’s campaign at the U-23 level in China in January 2018.
“It is an honour and a privilege to be part of a national team at any level,” said Milicic.
“This is the age group directly underneath the Socceroos, the next layer of players, and I think on the back of FIFA World Cup qualification January’s tournament in China will be a very good opportunity for the players selected to showcase themselves not only as individuals but as a team.
“Having worked closely with Ange (Postecoglou) over the past four years I will be looking to bring a lot of the traits from Australia’s senior national team to the 23s. We will be looking to play a very aggressive style of football in China, and aim to take the game to our opponents.
“While the AFC U-23 Championship in China is not contested in an official FIFA window it is a very important tournament that we will be taking seriously.
"We will be monitoring A-League based players and age-eligible players abroad over the next six weeks and will look to take the strongest possible squad to the competition,” concluded Milicic.
FFA’s Head of National Performance, Luke Casserly, said Milicic was the ideal candidate for the role.
“Ante Milicic has played an integral role in our national team set-up over the past four years,” said Casserly.
“Ante holds a current AFC Pro-Diploma, and is very well respected in the football community. We are fortunate to have one of Australia’s brightest and most talented young coaches working with this group,” he said.
Australia have been placed in Group D at next year’s AFC U-23 Championship alongside Korea Republic, Syria and Vietnam.
They will play their three pool matches at the Kunshan Stadium, which is located in Jiangsu Province.
A top two finish in Group D will be required to propel Australia U-23 to the quarter-finals.
Sources: Football Federation Australia Limited, AFC