Fred de Jong: Mastermind needs to be available for national duties

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With the superb results at the World Cup, many within the All Whites camp will be hoping to reap the rewards by turning these performances into solid contracts.

Players and management know that they have no better chance to display their wares to prospective employers than at a World Cup.

Arguably the person with the most to gain after the tournament will be the mastermind behind the All Whites' success, coach Ricki Herbert.

He is sure to be generating interest from clubs or other national associations from around the world. You need look no further than the implosion of the French campaign in South Africa to see the value of a coach who can keep a squad together and get the best out of the players. Herbert has that ability.

At club level it may be difficult for New Zealand to retain Herbert's services. As we have seen many times with other sporting codes here, when there is overseas interest in a player or a coach, New Zealand's ability to hold on to its talent is quickly stretched.

There will be interest for Herbert from other A-league clubs and most probably clubs throughout Asia. Adelaide United, having lost Aurelio Vidmar to the Socceroos after their World Cup cleanout, are looking for a new coach and Herbert is surely on their shortlist.

NZ Football's role is to ensure Herbert remains as national coach. Quite clearly, there is a bond between the coach, the captain and the rest of the squad that has brought about these results.

I'm sure Herbert is keen to stay on to develop this squad further. Regardless of where he ends up doing his day job, he needs to be available for national team duties.

He has shown that he can juggle the demands of both club and country. He has previously maintained that doing both roles is his preference. If this is the case then he will need to negotiate this with any future employer. NZ Football needs to ensure he is not disadvantaged by doing so.

So what lies in store for the All Whites post the World Cup?

There are two separate programmes that need to be implemented. The long-term goal needs to be a talent identification and development initiative to ensure future players are better equipped to meet the technical, physical and mental demands of international football.

A short-term programme is also required to give the All Whites the best possible chance of qualifying for the next World Cup in Brazil, 2014.

Compiling such a programme has its issues. New Zealand is disadvantaged as the competitions and qualification pathways within the Oceania confederation do not prepare teams adequately to compete at world events.

NZ Football needs to augment these matches with friendly fixtures. Match fees, airfares and wages make this a very costly exercise. The lack of availability of key players due to club commitments can also render these games meaningless.

The issues are difficult but not insurmountable. As we have seen in recent months the prize for getting it right is unforgettable.

- Fred de Jong is a former All White

- NZ Herald

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