Allan Jones: Time to plan for Brazil while the iron's hot

Several things must be done to build on the tremendous efforts of Ricki Herbert's All Whites.

If anyone had suggested we would exit the competition undefeated and ahead of 2006 champions Italy, I would have called them daft, or at least questioned their football knowledge and logic.

To take advantage of these achievements, New Zealand Football must not rest on their laurels.

The appointment of a national coach for 2014, be it Herbert or whoever, is paramount to the early planning needed at this level. We have to get Brazil 2014 in our sights as soon as possible. This is not only fair to the coach, but to the players and administrators.

NZF will then need to look at the quality of our domestic football leagues at national and regional levels. The quality of play and personnel is not high enough to sustain good support for the few genuine professional players who carry New Zealand citizenship.

The development process needs careful examination - from initial identification through to the quality of coaches working with our young and maturing players.

Coach education programmes must relate to player needs from children through to senior international levels. Because the old New Zealand Junior Football Association was disbanded we have lost that broad base to our elite groups.

Such is the importance of this, New Zealand Football will need to re-establish some 30-odd centres covering the country to ensure our second level of elitism is well catered for. Two main factors affect performance - coaching and competition, and NZF is, or should be, responsible for both.

Secondly, the results and performances of the All Whites in South Africa have thrown down a challenge to the football community. Assuming NZF provide the necessary vehicles, football people must emulate our competitors and develop our very own football culture.

In broad terms, this means players will be required to train and practise, either formally or informally, five days a week. Other countries do, so why not New Zealand? Other sports train daily in New Zealand, so why not football?

This is very important at a young age. Similarly, clubs will need to be operational 10 months of the year, playing some 40 or 50 matches in strong competitive leagues.

To this end it would also be helpful to embrace the global playing season, thus taking advantage of Fifa international windows and off-season tours from major football countries. There is no point in young footballers training hard then go into poorly organised clubs with a low level of commitment.

These issues are not just related to New Zealand. Other than Ghana, African nations have not fared as well as expected. South Africa, Cameroon, Algeria,, and the Ivory Coast have all exited early.

There has been a massive call, from senior administrators and ex-players of the African Confederation, for an investigation into national development programmes of countries in that continent. The development of local coaches was of particular concern.

It would appear that, with Japan and South Korea through to the knockout phase, Asia are doing something right. Both of these countries over the last 20 or so years have developed very strong national leagues. Their local coaches are linked into an internationally recognised coaching structure at Confederation level that allows sound and regulated education and qualification.

Following through on all of the above (which could be financed from the recently established $4 million trust fund) would ensure we go part way to meeting the demands of the game.

Let's hope it's not 28 years before we again have as much pleasure at a Fifa World Cup.

- NZ Herald

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