Soccer: Herbert to make call on future

By Terry Maddaford

Ricki Herbert is set to make the call on his coaching future early next week.

He and Wellington Phoenix owner Terry Serepisos will be in the grandstand at Waikato Stadium this afternoon to watch the A-League pre-season clash with Brisbane Roar but, more important, will take the opportunity to discuss Herbert's future.

While not being drawn on which direction he is likely to take, it is not difficult to sense Herbert is torn between club and country.

"I hope to come to a decision by Monday," he said. "I have to get my head around things. I have had a chat with Terry as I needed to get some idea on what his thoughts are."

Asked whether he enjoyed the dual Wellington Phoenix/All Whites coaching roles, Herbert said he was happy to do both but with some reservations.

"Hopefully I can stay [and continue in both jobs], but I'm only human," he said in an obvious reference to having to consider what may be more lucrative offers from elsewhere.

"There has been no real pressure from Terry but I have to concede that my head is not buried in the team [Phoenix] at the moment. We have agreed to get through the weekend and then make a call."

The club must also move quickly to sign three players by August 1 or face sanctions from the FFA.

"After the weekend when we can say whether I am staying or going that will be a priority. We have been given a list of players who are available and it is a case of going through that and coming up with those we want. It is unlikely any will come from New Zealand."

Of his future with the All Whites, Herbert said: "If I stay we will not be going into any future campaign without a clear understanding of what we need to do. We now know we are a decent team and in a position to look for games against countries like Portugal and Australia.

"In doing that we would be able to send a New Zealand A [development] team to play games against countries like Singapore and Malaysia. Already I'm sure a game against worthwhile opposition in the October Fifa window would be a sellout here and worth another $1 million for New Zealand Football."

Of likely retirements from the national side, Herbert said it would not "be right to talk to players until I make my decision".

New Zealand Football chairman Frank van Hattum is also playing wait and see. "We have already agreed in principle that if Ricki wants to continue we would go along with that," said van Hattum. "First and foremost, Ricki is a club coach.

"At present coaching the All Whites is not a full-time job. We could make it that but if the need arose I'm sure we could create a bigger role which would be full-time."

Van Hattum said that the coaching role could be enlarged to include the high-performance role, involving top coaches. But whether New Zealand Football could match the offers Herbert has so obviously been fielding remains doubtful.

- NZ Herald

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