Matildas ‘dreaming big’ despite coach turmoil
STRIKER Emily Gielnik says the Matildas can't change the past but can shape their future by moving on from the Alen Stajcic saga.
Under new coach Ante Milicic, the Matildas are in camp in Brisbane preparing for the four-team Cup of Nations tournament, which starts in Sydney on Thursday.
While the manner of last month's controversial sacking of former coach Stajcic remains a stain on Football Federation Australia and upset a host of players, Gielnik said the Matildas had to focus on the "bigger picture" of winning this year's women's World Cup.
She said Milicic has addressed the squad and that all parties were united.
"There's been a meeting. He didn't touch too much on the past and I think that was good because we can't keep coming back to the past," Gielnik said.
"He's really reiterated that the focus is the now and the future, so he's trying to get everyone in a positive mindset, (and) that's important because we can't take back or change what's happened.
"There are mixed emotions and everyone's going to have some emotional attachment to Stajcic and the past, but the overall goal of the World Cup can really override that for them.
"That's the big dream and they know they can't achieve that if they keep deflecting."
Gielnik said any suggestions of a rift within the Matildas' camp over Stajcic's sacking were wrong.
"Everyone gets along with everyone despite everyone's speculation. I think it's a great team, a great environment and I don't think any outside talk … can really tear us down as a group," the 26-year-old Melbourne Victory forward said.
"If we don't stick together, things don't look positive for us. We have to overcome the past, we have to use the ups and downs … to grow as a group."
The Matildas start their Cup of Nations campaign in Sydney on Thursday against New Zealand, with the match having been switched from Jubilee Stadium to Leichhardt Oval due to pitch safety concerns.
"As professional footballers we deserve the best pitch," Gielnik said.
"It's good for us, we want to be on a good pitch, in a good place, for everyone to enjoy it."
The Matildas' Cup of Nations campaign continues at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium on Sunday against South Korea, before concluding on Wednesday week at Melbourne's AAMI Park against Argentina.
"These three games are so crucial (in preparing for the World Cup). If we didn't have them, maybe things could be rocky, not enough time (under Milicic), but these three games against top countries, and on home soil, couldn't have come at a better time," Gielnik said.