New Zealand’s Ricki Herbert interested in MSL, S.League job

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New Zealand’s 2010 World Cup boss Ricki Herbert says that landing a coaching job in Malaysia or Singapore would be “the perfect next step” after parting ways with AFC minnows, the Maldives.

The 55-year-old left the Maldives’ head coaching job by mutual consent last week just nine months into a two-year contract after the island nation were beaten 2-0 by Yemen in Male in the first leg of a 2019 Asian Cup playoff on June 2. They lost the away leg by the same score on Wednesday night for a 4-0 defeat on aggregate as Yemen joined India, Cambodia, Malaysia and Tajikistan in the third round of qualifying.

Herbert, who was manager of A-League club Wellington Phoenix for seven years until 2013, has returned to his hometown of Auckland as he assesses his coaching future.

“Malaysia and Singapore are two developing football nations, with good leagues that are getting better all the time,” Herbert told ESPN FC.

“To be a head coach in the Malaysia Super League or S.League could be the perfect next step for me because I’ve really missed the day-to-day involvement of being a club coach.

“Of course, I have coached and played in the region for many years and am familiar with many of the former A-League players who are now earning a living in Southeast Asia.”

Herbert has coached in Papua-New Guinea and India in addition to Wellington Phoenix in the A-League.

Herbert, who famously guided New Zealand to an unbeaten campaign at South Africa 2010 including a 1-1 draw with defending champions Italy, said he had tried his best to lift the fortunes of Maldives football.

“It was a good experience in many ways, in a beautiful part of the world,” Herbert said. “But, with the ongoing election process taking place within the Maldives football association, it was challenging at times.

“However, I was grateful for the opportunity and will always keep an eye on the results of the Maldives national team in the future. I wish my former players and the association all the best.”

Herbert is a former central defender who earned 61 caps for New Zealand, appearing in the 1982 World Cup. He also had a two-season stint with Wolverhampton Wanderers in England.

His other recent coaching experience includes a year in charge of NorthEast United in the India Super League and coach of the Papua-New Guinea U23 side, who toured Malaysia last years, facing up to 2015 Malaysia Cup champions, Selangor, in a friendly.