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United strives to keep Klimkova

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Fleta Page

United wants to hold onto coach Jitka Klimkova.

United wants to hold onto coach Jitka Klimkova. Photo: Melissa Adams

As Canberra United come to terms with their season-ending loss to Brisbane on Saturday, the club is looking to retain coach Jitka Klimkova as a top priority for next season, as well as recruiting international players to bolster their line-up.

Players are hopeful Klimkova will return next season, with their season-ending 5-1 loss to Brisbane on Saturday leaving unfinished business for the reigning champions, who missed the finals for the first time in W-League history.

Klimkova told the Sunday Canberra Times she was keen to return for another season, but stopped short of giving any guarantees.

''Obviously she wants some time to have a think about what she's doing, but there's absolutely no doubt that we would want to secure her services for the third season,'' Canberra United chief executive Heather Reid said.

''I think the players want some certainty, I think they'd like some continuity, and judging from what Jitka [said], she wants to come back as well. It's just a matter of how she manages it with her other commitments. Jitka and I will sit down this week and have a chat about her terms for next season … I'd certainly want to have something in place before the end of the season.''

Players are confident Klimkova will return, with the Czech coach seen as an important part of the playing group's progress after a season impacted by injuries to experienced players, including goalkeeper Lydia Williams and playmaker Sally Shipard.

''Jitka's sort of spoken that this was a building year … and I think she started to work on things this year that will take more than one season to realise their full potential,'' captain Ellie Brush said.

''Hopefully that means she'll come back next year and continue her work with the core group of players … and Jitka will be at the forefront of building and continuing to build the strong culture of Canberra United.''

While Klimkova and the club have shown a commitment to developing local talent, the strengthening of the W-League this season has left United in no doubt about the need to have some top internationals, with player recruitment also on the agenda for discussions this week.

''The Americans who came at the end of the season were really positive for us, so hopefully we can get some more permanent positions like those filled who will work with us the whole season,'' Brush said.

Reid agreed and said US players Nikki Washington and Kristen Mewis were both possibilities to return after their short stints with the club.

''We need to look at the strength of the midfield and either lock in some Australian-based players or look to bring in some internationals,'' she said.

''We really need one or two players who have the capacity to be game changers.''

Reid will also talk with German international and two-time World Cup winner Ariane Hingst about her future in Canberra.

''She's certainly not the quickest player on the field, but gee, she was a terrific leader and a great inspiration, I think, for a lot of the players, so we'd want to see what her intentions are as well.''

The team will gather this week for a season debrief.

''[A score of] 5-1 wasn't a good way to finish the season and [Klimkova's] quite keen to have the squad together,'' Reid said.

''We'll do something … as a group, go away for the night somewhere so they can all debrief and go through the season.''

W-LEAGUE SEMI-FINALS

Brisbane Roar (1) v Sydney FC (4) in Brisbane; Perth Glory (2) v Melbourne Victory (3) in Perth. Venues, dates and kick-off times will be announced on Monday.

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