Wins give Klimkova's Matildas bid a lift
Canberra United coach Jitka Klimkova has been impressive during her time in the W-League. Photo: Melissa Adams
Interviews for the job of head coach of the Matildas start this week, with Canberra's Jitka Klimkova among a number of candidates vying for Australia's top women's soccer job.
The reigning W-League Coach of the Year flies to Sydney on Tuesday to meet the panel of selectors, but admitted after United's game on Saturday that she had given little thought to her interview, with her focus on securing the two W-League wins which rescued Canberra's season.
The wins, with a squad weakened by injury and fatigue, will no doubt strengthen her claims for the job, as she faces stiff competition in the search to replace Tom Sermanni, who is leaving to take the reins of the US women's national team.
Sally Shipard, the most-capped Matildas player in the United squad, has backed Klimkova for the role, but knows it won't be easy.
''Of course I'd love to see Jitka in that role, but at the same time she'll be up against … it'll be a competitive process for her, but she'd have my support,'' Shipard said.
''By the sounds of it they've got some pretty experienced candidates applying for the gig, and so they should - it's a pretty sweet job.
''It's a pretty big decision and … I'm quite happy I'm not a part of the selection panel.''
Others reportedly going for the job include Tony DiCicco, who coached the US women's team to the World Cup in 1999, Carolina Morace, former coach of the Italian and Canadian national teams, and Sermanni's assistant coach, Spencer Prior.
Shipard was among the senior Matildas who met with Football Federation Australia officials last week, with the group asked for their feedback as the Matildas face a new era after eight years with Sermanni in charge.
''You've got to be quite adaptable in terms of who you'll be looking after and where each of the players are at and what stages of life they'll be in, that's something Tommy's really typified,'' Shipard said, noting the ages of the squad range from 16 to 32.
''He's been able to treat everyone as individuals and he's done quite well at getting as much out of each of us as he could.''
It's one of a couple of traits Klimkova shares, Shipard said.
''Jitka certainly encouraged us to believe in our own ability and I think that really shows in the individuals that have been stepping up this season. Everyone's just got this different level of passion for the game.
''Nothing Tommy ever set for us seemed out of reach, and I guess Jitka has that ability [too].''
While the Matildas job would require Klimkova to leave Canberra United, Shipard takes a win-win view of the situation as a member of both squads.
''[With] Tommy, he's moving on to a new challenge and he has my complete support, and it would be a very similar situation with Jitka, but I guess either way, I'd still be coached by her … that's me thinking nice and selfishly!''