Underfire New Zealand coach quits after player mutiny

2018-07-31 11:10
Andreas Heraf (Getty Images)

Wellington - Embattled New Zealand women's coach Andreas Heraf quit Tuesday, ending a rocky era which culminated in most top players refusing to play for him.

The former Austrian international's resignation came as the New Zealand Football Association (NZF) launched an investigation into complaints about the 50-year-old who has been on "special leave" since June.

NZF president Deryck Shaw accepted Heraf's resignation but said the inquiry would continue into issues raised in written complaints from 13 players who said they would not play for New Zealand again if he remained in charge.

"Part of the resignation is that Andreas has confirmed that he will fully participate in the review and we will look to the findings of the review to determine the outcomes around this matter," Shaw said.

Heraf quit with immediate effect as both coach of the Football Ferns, as the women's team is known, and as New Zealand's technical director.

He has not commented in New Zealand but in a recent interview with Austrian newspaper Der Standard he claimed there was a "large-scale conspiracy" against him.

Allegations of bullying and intimidation "lack any foundation and are based on fundamental differences in professionalism and performance," he said.

Current Ferns players have told reporters, under anonymity, they had to ask Heraf's permission to leave the table at dinner, they were shouted at for passing the ball between defence and midfield or if they passed the ball backwards because it was deemed too risky.

Problems within the women's camp spilled into the public arena after their tour of Spain in March, following which New Zealand's most-capped player, Abby Erceg, retired in frustration.

Erceg later described the Ferns' tactics as "cowering in a corner", saying she would prefer to lose a game while trying to win it.

"That's my mind-set, and if you tell me I can't do that, then I can no longer represent that shirt with pride or conviction," she said.

The player criticism reached a peak in June following Heraf's comments after a 3-1 loss to Japan in which New Zealand were told to play an ultra-defensive game.

Heraf believed they "could have lost 8-0" with a more positive approach and said New Zealand, ranked 20th in the world, "will never have (the) quality to compete with" 11th-ranked Japan, the former world champions.

Read more on:    new zealand  |  soccer


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