Striker Sam Kerr was named captain of the troubled Australian women’s football team Wednesday, with coach Ante Milicic confident she can lead the Matildas into a new era.
Kerr, 25, will head the team at this year’s World Cup and has her first taste of leadership as Australia hosts the Cup of Nations this week in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
Her appointment comes after Milicic’s predecessor Alen Stajcic was dumped in controversial circumstances last month over unspecified concerns about “player welfare”.
While Stajcic has threatened legal action and many in Australia’s soccer community still want answers about his sacking, Milicic said Kerr’s appointment was a chance for the team to move on.
“What I said to the group is the message is clear — what’s happened in the past, we can’t change that,” he told reporters.
“But from today, the first meeting we had, the first training session we had, this is our chance to move forward and we can definitely together make an impact on how this journey’s going to end.”
Kerr has earned 72 caps for Australia and scored 27 times since her debut in 2009, frequently celebrating her goals with a trademark back flip.
She said it was a “tremendous honour” to captain the Matildas, ranked sixth in the world, with Steph Catley as her vice-captain.
“Together with Steph and the team we are committed to excelling at the 2019 Women’s World Cup and there will be no bigger honour than to wear the armband in France,” she said.
The duo replaced co-captains Clare Polkinghorne and Lisa De Vanna, both of whom remain with the squad.