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Matildas begin Olympic preparations with Alen Stajcic contract extension

Alen Stajcic
Alen Stajcic guided Australia to the 2015 World Cup quarterfinals in Canada.

Successful Matildas coach Alen Stajcic has secured a four-year contract extension that will keep him at the helm until after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The deal was revealed as Stajcic named a strong 20-player squad for the Matildas' final two warm-up matches before the Rio Olympics.

Overseas-based stars Steph Catley, Elise Kellond-Knight, Kyah Simon, Emily van Egmond and Lydia Williams are among big names who will fly home for the clashes against New Zealand in Ballarat (June 4) and Melbourne (June 7).

Stajcic initially took over as interim coach of the Matildas when Hesterine de Reus was sacked in April 2014, and he impressed when leading them to the Asian Cup final then guiding them to the 2015 World Cup quarterfinals before qualifying for Rio.

The new contract means he will oversee the team at a series of major tournaments beyond Rio, including the AFC Women's Cup in 2018, the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2019 and the 2020 Olympics.

"I'm very happy on a personal level, but I think it's also important for the program to have this certainty. The timing helps our focus on Rio," said Stajcic.

Sydney FC defender Teigen Allen is the only player named in the squad for the matches against New Zealand who was not part of the Matildas' successful qualifying campaign for Rio back in March, with the 22-year-old's last international appearance coming two years ago.

Samantha Kerr (foot) was not been named as she continues to battle an injury that kept her out of the qualifiers.

She had minor surgery two weeks ago but Stajcic is hopeful she will return to playing in the next few weeks and she will be in contention for the Olympic squad if fit.

Teams in the Rio women's football tournament can only nominate squads of 18, making Kerr's one of many tough selection decisions Stajcic will face in the next month or so.

"This squad will obviously contain a lot of the players that will head to Rio but it's certainly not 100 percent finalised yet," he said.

"There's still a chance for players to put their hand up and again we're trying to increase the depth of the team so we can be as competitive as we can internally and on the international stage as well."

The Matildas go into camp in Ballarat on May 30.

Matildas squad for New Zealand matches: Teigen Allen, Laura Alleway, Mackenzie Arnold (gk), Tameka Butt, Ellie Carpenter, Stephanie Catley, Caitlin Cooper, Larissa Crummer, Lisa De Vanna, Casey Dumont (gk), Caitlin Foord, Katrina Gorry, Michelle Heyman, Elise Kellond-Knight, Alanna Kennedy, Chloe Logarzo, Clare Polkinghorne, Kyah Simon, Emily van Egmond, Lydia Williams (gk).

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