Soccer: Unbeaten campaign could sway Herbert to stay

By Terry Maddaford

Spain's heart-stopping 1-0 win over the Netherlands in yesterday's World Cup final had special significance for Ricki Herbert and his All Whites.

Of the 393 coaches/managers to take teams to soccer's biggest stage since the inaugural Cup in 1930, only 20, now including Herbert, have gone away unbeaten.

"It is incredible," said Herbert who was joined by his assistant Brian Turner in watching yesterday's game among 400 fans in a breakfast function at North Harbour Stadium. "I'm incredibly proud to be part of something like this."

Only 12 countries, including heavyweights Brazil, Germany, Italy and Argentina, have gone through a World Cup unbeaten. The All Whites, just the 11th country on that list, were the only team to leave South Africa unbeaten.

Spain lost 1-0 first up to Switzerland before sweeping through their remaining six matches. The Dutch were unbeaten in reaching the final after three wins in group matches and three in the post-group phase.

That success may well sway Herbert's decision to stay on.

He is expected to make a statement on his future - at club and international level - this afternoon but it appears the scales appear to be tipping towards a "more of the same" involvement with the Wellington Phoenix and the All Whites.

"I had a chat with [Phoenix boss] Terry Serepisos in Hamilton on Saturday and again here in Wellington today," said Herbert late yesterday. "I will have further discussions tomorrow before announcing my decision."

Herbert said the momentum the All Whites' efforts had gained was a key factor in deciding his future.

"I'm hoping to be involved," he said in a clear reference to his thoughts. "Something like this [going through unbeaten] only keeps adding to the profile."

New Zealand Football chairman Frank van Hattum again stated his association's feelings on the subject.

"The deal we have put to Ricki hasn't changed," said van Hattum. "So long as he can get a release clause sorted out which would allow him to be available - but not necessarily needed - for every Fifa window then I will stand by the agreement we shook on in South Africa.

"He has to go to whatever club he is with, or planning to go to, and get agreement on these base terms."

Once that is sorted out, van Hattum hopes to confirm the All Whites' next commitment with the hint the national body are looking at two rather than one home internationals in Fifa's October window.

"If we are bringing our players back we would want to make best use of them," said van Hattum. "If we can work it out, we could play two different international teams - at two venues - in that window.

"We hope to have something to announce within a fortnight."

- NZ Herald

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