Home » USWNT Manager Vlatko Andonovski on WWC Exit: ‘selfish’ to Focus on My Future
Central US Featured Global News News Sports

USWNT Manager Vlatko Andonovski on WWC Exit: ‘selfish’ to Focus on My Future

United States women’s national team manager Vlatko Andonovski said that it would be “selfish” to think about his own future following his side’s Women’s World Cup defeat to Sweden.

The U.S. dominated the round-of-16 encounter throughout, and the Americans might have won the game in regulation were it not for the heroics of Sweden goalkeeper Zećira Mušović. Instead, the match remained goalless and proceeded to a penalty shootout — where Sweden won 5-4, ending with Lina Hurtig‘s winner that barely crept over the goal line, concluding the USWNT’s quest for a third consecutive title.

“Right now all I think about is the players,” Andonovski said. “I see the players in tears, and it hurts, and that’s all I can think about.”

The exit marked the first time in history the U.S. team did not at least reach the semifinals of a World Cup. When asked multiple follow-up questions about his tenure, Andonovski added: “I think it’s selfish to think about me, my future, what I’m gonna do, when we have 20-year-old players going through the moment, going through this situation.

“I want be there for them. I love them. I love them all. And they’re my players, but they’re my friends. We spent four years together. They got their first caps with me. They got their first national team call-ups with me. We spend times, tough times, good times. So I don’t want to see them like that. That’s all I think about.”

Andonovski said throughout his time as U.S. manager, his focus has never been on his personal situation or job security.

“I never came into this job, never came in the locker room with the mindset or do something to save my job,” Andonovski said.

“I was always focused on doing my job in the best possible manner to prepare this team for the challenges that they have in front and to prepare them to represent our country in the best possible manner. That was the only thing that was in my focus. And it won’t change. It will never change. And I think that no matter what happens in the future, that’s how I will approach [it], whether it’s this job or any other job.”

In terms of the long-term impact on the defeat, Andonovski vowed that the players would come back stronger for this experience.

“This group of players, obviously, they’re hurt in the moment, and it’s a tough moment,” he said. “It’s a tough moment for them. It’s a tough moment for the staff, it’s a tough moment for everyone. But in same time, I know that they will use this moment as a motivation, and not to go through the same thing ever again.”

Andonovski also defended his decision to use Megan Rapinoe in the penalty shootout, despite her on-field struggles during the tournament.

“Megan Rapinoe is a legend,” he said. “If I had my life on the line right now, and I had to pick who’s going to take the penalty, Megan Rapinoe is going to be my first choice, No. 1 in the world, no question about it.

“It’s a game of soccer. Sometimes the ball is going to go two inches to the left or two inches to the right, and it’s going to bounce in the way that is not favorable for us. In terms of the criticism, now is the time to be criticized. We heard about criticism in the group stage, which was crazy for us. For someone to say how much they love this team and how much they love this country and how much they love all the players, and then instead of encouraging them, they’re criticizing them. Now is time for criticism.”

Source : ESPN