Ante Milicic confident Australia have won tug-of-war for Mary Fowler


The Herald understands Mary’s father, Kevin, met with Football Federation Australia’s head of national teams Luke Casserly last week in an attempt to mend relations with the family amid fears they would all be lost to Ireland.

The Fowlers were understood to have been incensed by Alen Stajcic’s description of their lifestyle as “alternative” after turning down his call-up, despite the former Matildas coach rating Mary as the best young talent he had come across in the women’s game.

Matildas coach Ante MilicicCredit:AAP

Milicic also rates the three-cap forward very highly and said she had been on his radar from the moment he took over the job.

“She’s an exciting prospect,” he said. “I’m looking forward to her coming into camp so I can see her live and her quality on the field but also how she interacts with the group, which is important for what we’re trying to build.

“She’s definitely got a lot of attacking quality – left foot, right foot, she’s good at shielding the ball, very powerful. I’m very delighted she’s expressed an interest to play for Australia.

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“She’s been part of the setup before and for her to commit to playing for Australia is fantastic news – not only for us, but I believe in her development as well.

“She’s only 16 years old, she’s got a long career ahead of her and coming into our environment and where we are as a footballing nation, that can only help her short-term and long-term.”

Fowler has to make an instant impression in the US to be in with a chance of making the World Cup squad given the settled nature of the Matildas at the moment – but nothing is out of the question when it comes to such a prodigious talent.

The other new faces in Milicic’s squad are Katrina Gorry and Chloe Logarzo, the experienced pair who have been battling injuries of late, as well as uncapped duo Elizabeth Ralston and Teagan Micah.

All of them are presumably on the long list of 50 players which Milicic has already submitted to FIFA, from which he must select his final squad for the World Cup in France. That will be announced in May.

The clash against the US on April 5 also marks the first time the Matildas will wear their popular new jersey. Milicic once wore the infamous Socceroos ‘spew’ jersey it is partly modelled on.

“You know what? I like it because I know the girls like it,” he said. “They’re really happy with it, they’re comfortable in it, they’re excited to wear it.

“The players will definitely, as always, wear that Matildas jersey with a lot of pride.”

Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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