14 Jun 2018

NZF boss: Ferns coach not stepping down

8:32 pm on 14 June 2018

Football New Zealand chief executive Andy Martin has apologised to angry fans for the comments of Andreas Heraf, but confirmed he wouldn't be seeking the Football Ferns coach's resignation from either of his roles.

New Zealand Football CEO Andy Martin

New Zealand Football CEO Andy Martin Photo: © Copyright Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz Photosport Ltd 2018

Also the technical director at NZF, Heraf is under-fire for his highly defensive tactics and post-match comments after the Ferns' 3-1 defeat to Japan last Sunday.

The Austrian said that New Zealand would never be able to compete against the top teams, a comment he attempted to clarify this week as Kiwi players not having the ability to compete on a techincal level.

The comments have some concerned supporters calling for Heraf to step down with immediate effect, fearing the damage he has done and will do to the Ferns and the game in New Zealand in general.

Before confirming that would not be happening, Martin said he is sorry for what Heraf said and believed it was not consistent with the private conversations he had had with the Football Ferns coach.

"I repeat our apologies," the NZF boss said via conference call from Moscow, where he is for the annual Congress of global governing body Fifa.

"Clearly we played a negative style of football but let's keep it in context, we lost a game of football.

"I'm not defending the comments afterwards, it was clumsy and certainty not what I would expect one of my staff to talk to.

"We'll make sure that doesnt happen again but I don't think that was what was intended."

Martin also doesn't expect the national women's team to play with a negative mindset should they qualify for next year's World Cup.

Kiwi fans of the sport are concerned of the direction the Football Ferns are going in after the 11-players behind the ball style Heraf employed against Japan.

Martin believed the style was designed to cater for the opposition and admitted it is not a recipe for success looking towards the World Cup in France in 12 months time.

"Will we perform at the World Cup with the negative style of football we saw last week? Absolutely not," he said, adding the Ferns were going through a necesarry "change programme" given their failure to win games at pinnacle events in the past.

"In hindsight, in a home game was that a smart move? Given the opposition he's obviously made a judgement call.

"But I don't expect us to be playing that style of football, I expect our teams to have a strong never-say-die Kiwi attitude."

Football Ferns coach Andreas Heraf.

Football Ferns coach Andreas Heraf. Photo: Photosport

Members of the Ferns squad haven't and are unlikely to speak out on the saga.

However, former skipper and holder of a record 132 caps for the team, Abby Erceg, has been highly critical of Heraf and said his approach to the game resulted in her decision to retire for a second time in April.

But Martin said it was, in fact, a senior group of players who convinced him to take on Heraf as head coach.

Appointed NZF technical director in August last year, Heraf then added Football Ferns coach to his list of responsibilities in December.

Martin maintained it was the players who asked for him to come on board fulltime after he was the interim coach on their successful tour of Thailand last November.

"A senior delegation of players came to me personally and wanted Andreas to stay on until the World Cup.

"I was the last to be convinced by this because of the conflict between [his] two roles.

"But he had a good affect on the girls and they wanted him to stay with them."

Martin also said Heraf had the full support of captain Ali Riley, the Swedish-based defender who had taken over as Football Ferns skipper.

"It certainly was the new captain who led that delegation [of players] for me to appoint Andreas.

"Right now Ali's been very supportive. She's been in camp [for the Japan fixture] and I'm sure she would let me know if there were any issues and to date she hasn't. If she does then of course we will respond to them.

"We have a group of girls who want to perform at the World Cup."