Westfield Matildas coach Alen Stajcic has hailed Australia's development in men’s and women’s football as a mentality of technique, tactics and smarter players continues to work through the Aussie system.
Speaking before the Matildas’ second FIFA Women's World Cup game against Nigeria on Saturday morning (AEST), Stajcic said planning and a clear direction on how Australia wants to play is paying dividends as Australia morphs into a modern football nation.
Stajcic hailed the FFA national curriculum, which mandates how all juniors should be playing, and pointed to the new thinking underpinning the game’s future in Australia.
“Almost every FIFA report in history has always said the same things about Australia: competitive, good spirit, hard-working, good mentality but poor technique,” he told reporters in Winnipeg on Thursday.
“So we really want to change that over the next five or ten years – it sometimes takes a generation or so, but we’ve definitely got the plans and systems in place to support that."
Stajcic's counterpart in the Socceroo set-up, Ange Postecoglou, holds the same view and it's something that's been clearly stated in the recent Whole Of Football Plan - a 20-year vision for the game's growth in Australia.
Both the Asian Cup winning Socceroos and Matildas are now playing attacking, technical football - and reaping the rewards on the pitch with positive performances.
“If you’ve seen our men’s team play or our women’s team, [now] we all have the same mentality and principles of play.
“We want to become a modern football country that aims for the top. Possession-based with good technique and technical skills," said Stajcic.
He cited reigning Women’s World Cup champions Japan’s 50-year plan as an example of what Australia is trying to do in its future.
“Japan was a classic example from the last [Women’s] World Cup where it wasn’t just the robust, physical team that won the World Cup.
“It was a technical, tactical team with the smartest players on the field.
“And their men’s team is technically superb so there’s no reason why we can’t do the same in Australia.
“We have some great athletes but in football you need to be more than a great athlete," Stajcic added.
“So we might be waiting five to ten years for the next generation of Australians to come through in men’s and women’s football, but we’re certainly heading down that path."