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Former United States women’s national team coach Jill Ellis said on Thursday that the recruitment process for Vlatko Andonovski‘s replacement should be diverse but that the sex of the candidates should not be a decisive factor.
Andonovski resigned as coach on Wednesday, multiple US media outlets reported, following the four-times champions’ early exit from the Women’s World Cup this month. US Soccer have neither responded to the reports nor confirmed Andonovski’s exit.
Ellis, who oversaw two World Cup triumphs in 2015 and 2019, said there were plenty of high quality and successful women coaches but the most important thing was that the U.S. ended up with the right person for the job.
“There’s certainly good female coaches out there,” she told reporters at a Fifa technical briefing in Sydney on Thursday.
“So what I would hope in this process is it’s robust, it’s diverse, but at the end of the day, this is a critical hire … and I think it has to be the right person.”
Andonovski faced sky-high expectations when he took over nearly four years ago, after Ellis had guided the team to back-to-back World Cup triumphs.
He led the United States to a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics but there were early signs of trouble at the competition in Australia and New Zealand as the team failed to hit their stride after a slew of pre-tournament injuries.
Ultimately, their bid for an unprecedented third consecutive title in New Zealand and Australia ended in a round-of-16 loss to Sweden, marking their worst performance in the quadrennial tournament.
Ellis said she was a great advocate for women coaches in the women’s game and spoke in glowing terms about the job Sarina Wiegman had done in taking England to Sunday’s World Cup final against Spain.
“We need to make sure we’re creating and providing opportunities for women,” she added.
“But not just giving them the opportunities, making sure they’re supported and they’re educated and they’re ready to take those responsibilities and those opportunities.
“So I think it’s critical hire, it’s got to be the right coach for this position. But in terms of gender, what we know is that in the last however many major tournaments, I think women have done alright.”
Since 2000, all but one of the major women’s football titles – the Women’s World Cup, Women’s Euros and the Olympics – have been won by teams coached by women.
The team have a pair of friendlies against South Africa set for 21 and 24 September. An interim coach was expected to take the reins for those matches, one outlet said.
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