Outgoing Matildas coach Tom Sermanni. Photo: Orlando Chiodo
A gender debate has erupted in the search for the next Australian women's football coach, with revelations members of the Matildas squad wrote a letter to the Football Federation of Australia last month indicating their preference for a male coach.
Fairfax Media understands the letter to FFA requested Matildas players be given some input into the replacement for outgoing coach Tom Sermanni.
The letter was purported to be sent on behalf of the Matildas team, but did not have the support of the whole squad and has shocked people at all levels of the sport's administration, as well as fellow players.
Canberra United coach Jitka Klimkova has been interviewed for the role. Photo: Getty Images
The FFA met with senior members of the Matildas squad earlier this month to brief them on the selection process for the coaching role and seek information on the culture of the team, but it is unclear whether that was as a direct result of the letter.
The FFA declined to comment.
It is understood the letter did not affect the FFA's recruitment or selection criteria of the new coach, with an announcement expected before the end of the year.
There has been speculation about whether the FFA would take the opportunity to appoint one of the highly-credentialled female candidates to replace Sermanni, who had great respect from his players but has moved on to lead the US women's national team.
Many of the Matildas players have never been coached by a female, with Sermanni leading the Matildas for the past eight years, and the W-League and state-level development programs around the country having mostly male coaches in charge.
But with a number of women in the mix to take over from Sermanni, it is believed the letter was a reaction from some players fearing change.
Canberra United's Jitka Klimkova is one of the candidates who has been interviewed for the job, having guided United to the W-League title undefeated last season.
Klimkova is one of three W-League coaches confirmed to have been interviewed for the Matildas position, along with Melbourne Victory's Mike Mulvey and Sydney FC coach Alen Stajcic.
Mulvey has since been appointed to take over from Rado Vidosic as head coach of Brisbane Roar in the men's A-League until the end of the season, raising questions about his availability for the Matildas.
Other international coaches thought to be in the mix are two Dutch women, Hesterine de Reus and Vera Pauw.
Klimkova would not be drawn into discussions about the Matildas job on Thursday, maintaining focus on Saturday's match with top-of-the-table Perth Glory.
United's path to the finals is not an easy one, needing to win all three of their remaining games to guarantee its place in the top four.
That task got slightly easier with news that Glory's goalkeeper Carly Telford - who plays for the English national team - is out for the remainder of the season after having four pins inserted in the hand she broke on the weekend.
''She's certainly one of their key players, so that is a positive for us but the main thing we look at is finding ways to score and continuing to create a lot of chances. We've got to put the ball in the back of the net and convert those chances,'' United captain Ellie Brush said
''It's a really tough trip over to Perth. Hopefully our experience of travel this year should hold us in good stead. They've got a really strong team, but we have managed to get the better of them this year already and we're really confident going over there.''