morace-c-cp-090205-306

Carolina Morace wants to ensure Canada plays at the "highest level of international football." ((Alex Livesey/Getty Images))

Former Italian international star Carolina Morace was officially introduced as the new head coach of Canada's women's soccer team on Thursday.

The Canadian Soccer Association made the announcement at a media conference in Toronto.

Morace will also serve as coach of the Canadian under-20 women's team.

"Today we embark on a new era in women's soccer in Canada," said CSA general secretary Peter Montopoli. "Our goal is very clear: winning medals on the international stage. We've taken the first step to achieving this goal by hiring the best coach available to lead out the women's program."

Montopoli heralded the appointment of Morace "as a very significant milestone in the development of women's soccer" in Canada.

"Carolina will now be the face of women's soccer in Canada," proclaimed Montopoli.

Morace, who was celebrating her 45th birthday on Thursday, replaces Even Pellerud. The Norwegian led Canada to the quarter-finals of the Beijing Olympics in August, but left his post after the Games to take over the women's program in Trinidad and Tobago.

Morace inherits a Canadian team that participated in each of the last four FIFA Women's World Cups, finishing ninth in 2007 and fourth in 2003.

"My objective is to lead Canada to an Olympic or FIFA Women's World Cup medal and to ensure that Canada plays at the highest level of international football," Morace said.

'The team must know every system'

Born in Venice, Morace explained that her coaching philosophy is based demanding hard work from her players, both in training and in games, and stressed she will use a flexible tactical system on the field.

"I think that the coach of a national team should know all the systems — 4-42 or 4-3-3 — because if I have three good forwards, I'll play 4-3-3. The team must know every system … the characteristics of the players will determine the style of play," Morace said.

Morace revealed that Marcelo Lippi, who led the Italian men's team to victory at the 2006 World Cup, is one of her biggest coaching influences.

"In Italy, we have many, many good coaches. Marcelo Lippi is one of the best and his methodology is a new methodology … it's important that the coach is not an authoritarian, and more fluid and flexible, and offers leadership," Morace said.

"Lippi offers great leadership."

Long list of credentials

Morace earned 153 caps for Italy, scoring 105 goals. She played in the first ever FIFA Women's World Cup in 1991 in China, scoring four goals before Italy was knocked out in the quarter-finals.

She is also the only woman in Europe to have coached a pro men's team, having run Serie C side Viterbese in 1999.

She debuted for the Italian women's national team in 1978, against Yugoslavia, at the age of just 14, and went on to captain the side.

Morace has also coached the Italian women's national team and more recently served as a soccer TV analyst in Italy.