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Milicic game-plan labelled ‘absolutely ridiculous’ after shock loss

The Matildas won’t be hurried into rethinking their World Cup style despite their game-plan facing intense criticism after their opening loss to Italy.

Ante Milicic’s side were humbled 2-1 in Valenciennes on Sunday by a team making their World Cup return after a 20-year break.

Much of the outing wasn’t pretty. The high defensive line employed by Milicic nearly cost Australia dearly, with two Italy goals on the counter ruled out by marginal offside calls.

Emily van Egmond was again error-strewn in possession, while the much-vaunted Matildas front line is yet to gel.Within minutes of the final whistle, brickbats flew at the team, and particularly Milicic. Matildas great Heather Garriock, who played at three World Cups and is now Canberra United coach, didn’t hold back.

“I’m so upset. More for the style in which we played the second half … this high line is absolutely ridiculous,” she said on Optus Sport.

“If you think as a coach you can come in and change your philosophy and change the style within five matches … we have just been crucified, not once but twice.

“If we had a better side playing against us tonight it would have been (worse). I’m so disappointed.”
Milicic wore a heavy face as he came to grips with the result, conceding his side played within themselves. “When we played our football we looked decent, but it was only in patches,” he said. “We need to be a little bit more brave and composed on the ball. “We need to have a better understanding when to drop and when to stay high and the position of the goalkeeper.” Forward Caitlin Foord suggested the Matildas, who have enjoyed Milicic’s tactical tweaks since he took over in February, weren’t about to change their approach. “No World Cup is won on the first game,” she said. “There’s a lot of positives to take. We’re here to play our style of football … we believe that will win us the World Cup, so we’ll keep doing that.” Australia now head south to Montpellier, where they face Brazil, who thrashed Jamaica 3-0 on Sunday.