Ex-All Whites coach Ricki Herbert waiting for the next Winston Reid to emerge

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FORMER ALL WHITES coach Ricki Herbert has questioned the player development programmes in New Zealand as he waits for the next Kiwi star to emerge.

In a blog for ESPN FC, Herbert listed his five wishes for New Zealand football in 2016 and says it is crucial that the next Winston Reid, Wynton Rufer or Ryan Nelsen is unearthed.

“It is interesting that none of the trio who achieved so much on the English or European stages progressed through New Zealand football programmes, yet they were still able to stand out from the rest,” Herbert wrote on the website. “Now we are waiting impatiently for the next homegrown superstar to follow in their footsteps.”

Herbert pointed out that while plenty of youngsters have been given opportunities with the All Whites, they are often found to be out of their depth on the European club scene.

He believes the national domestic league needs to be organised so that rising stars get the chance to compete against the best players on a regular basis.

“It is imperative that this area is viewed as a crucial cog in the wheel of international success,” he added. “Too many dreams are not fulfilled, with aspirants returning to their home shores after failing to breakthrough on the bigger playing fields overseas.”

Herbert urged New Zealand Football (NZF) to seriously strengthen the All Whites’ international schedule if they are to have a hope of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

The national side played just three fixtures in 2015 as they fell to a record low Fifa ranking of of 151.

Herbert, who led the All Whites to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, says NZF need to adopt a quality over quantity approach when it comes to beefing up the international programme.
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“Forget friendlies versus lower ranked teams and also ensure that all players are in attendance. Both are necessary for New Zealand to have the best chance of success,” he continued on ESPN FC. “And a high profile fixture at home is imperative to showcase the All Whites and to provide fans with a view of the team which they rarely get to see.”

Also on his list, the former Phoenix coach says a top-four finish by his old club is a “minimum requirement” as they attempt to secure their future in the A-League, while he had some strong words for the Football Ferns in their road to the Rio Olympics.

“Having enjoyed a vast platform of support from New Zealand Football and funding agencies for a number of years, it is now time for the national women’s team to deliver. A disappointing last-place finish in their group at the 2015 Women’s World Cup must now be overturned by a strong showing at the 2016 Olympics, with a medal as the target.”

Published by Stuff.co.nz, December 28, 2015