New Zealand women revolt over coach’s tactics

New Zealand women's football team coach Andreas Heraf has come under fire from players for his ultra-defensive tactics
AFP

Wellington (AFP) – New Zealand Football said Tuesday it had received complaints from members of the women’s national team, who are reportedly unhappy about the negative tactics used by their coach.

After New Zealand, ranked 20th in the world, lost 3-1 to 11th-ranked Japan this month, coach Andreas Heraf said the game plan was to be ultra-defensive because they “could have lost 8-0” with a more positive approach.

The Austrian added that the New Zealand team “will never have (the) quality to compete with” Japan. 

The statement riled players and media reports said at least 10 members of the team, known as the Football Ferns, had written formal letters of complaint, which also covered off-field issues including team culture.

New Zealand Football (NZF) said in a statement it had received a letter from the NZ Professional Footballers Association “with a number of complaints from the players of the Football Ferns”. 

It said it was reviewing them “as a matter of priority” and would issue a further statement on Wednesday. 

After the loss to Japan, NZF chief executive Andy Martin described some of Heraf’s comments as “strange” but endorsed him as the right man for the job.

“We have someone with real capability and he has to perform. Our job is to support him and give him every opportunity,” Martin said. 

Heraf is the NZF technical director as well as the Football Ferns coach, despite FIFA advising the two roles were “incompatible.” 

The former international’s playing career included being a member of Austria’s 1998 World Cup squad, although he never took the field. At club level, he played for Rapid Vienna when they lost the 1997 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final 1-0 to Paris Saint-Germain. 

Before moving to New Zealand, most of his coaching career had been with Austrian sides at age-group level.

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