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Matildas undergoing a 'positive transition' from Alen Stajcic to Ante Milicic

If Alen Stajcic's exit from the Matildas created an elephant in the dressing room, Australia's players are doing a great job avoiding it.

The Matildas have been in camp for five days before their Cup of Nations tournament, which kicks off for them against New Zealand on Thursday in Sydney, and they insist the dramatic coach swap isn't even discussed.

Stajcic was fired by Football Federation Australia last month for what the governing body says was a toxic culture that had built up under his leadership.

While the ousted coach denied the charges, FFA moved swiftly to appoint Socceroos assistant Ante Milicic in his place.

The dramatic exit drew a media storm, suggestions of conspiratorial behaviour and enormous hurt for those close to the saga; not least of all the players.

Steph Catley, who captained Australia in the Asian Cup final last year, said she struggled to engage with what's been written.

"I have stayed away from a lot of the reports," she told AAP. "Things happened and we have to get on with it.

"Ante's come in, we've accepted that and have to move forward with whatever he thinks is best for us."

Catley said suggestions the team had been broken or split by the feud, or Stajcic's leadership, were wrong.

"It's not accurate in how we actually feel about each other," she said. "We've known each other for years and years and years. We're a family.

"We know who we are and what we're about."

If there's been a strain on the players, it's not showing in camp.

Training sessions have been hard but upbeat, with a jovial atmosphere that has come to characterise the beloved team.

Players to have spoken publicly during the camp have only alluded to the trauma of the coaching swap.

Emily Gielnik mentioned a "hard time." Hayley Raso said the team is "looking forward."

Samantha Kerr
Matildas talisman Sam Kerr trains with her teammates at Australia's training camp in Brisbane.

Alanna Kennedy, who like Catley was a mainstay of the team under Stajcic, said the camp hadn't featured any heart-to-heart discussions or a truth-telling moment with Milicic.

"We had that in the couple of days after [Stajcic's sacking] was announced," she said, referring to their two-day summit in Coogee last month.

"It's not a talking point for us. Our talking point for us is the games and that's where our focus is on."

Players also agree on another point; Milicic's arrival has provided a fresh wind under their wings.

The highly-rated coach has already won over Kennedy in just their few days together.

"He's slotted right in. He's stamped his authority and there's a lot of mutual respect," she said. "He trusts us and we trust him. It's been a really positive transition."


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