Steven Holloway is the football writer for the NZ Herald.

Football: Hudson lashes out at state of NZ Football

New Zealand Coach Anthony Hudson (l) and Football CEO Andy Martin. Photo / Greg Bowker.
New Zealand Coach Anthony Hudson (l) and Football CEO Andy Martin. Photo / Greg Bowker.

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson has launched a venomous tirade on the state of football in New Zealand calling the young players 'delusional', the culture 'laid back' and described the game as 'moving backward'.

Hudson is 18 months through a four year contract which takes him through until the end of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and the 34-year-old Englishman said he wouldn't be doing his job properly if he didn't highlight the deficiencies in the national game.

Hudson lambasted the lack of professionalism in the domestic game and the absence of regular international fixtures.

The All Whites played just three games in 2015, the least in world football, and have no matches confirmed for the upcoming March international window ahead of the crucial Oceania Nations Cup which acts as a stepping stone to World Cup qualification.

"It's just not right and the situation has to change," Hudson told Tony Veitch on Newstalk ZB. "I find this situation very difficult.

"We have never had a problem with finding teams to play us, that has never been the problem. There are teams out there who want to play.

"There is a Fifa window in March and still we don't know who we are playing so we can't plan, we can't prepare. Our players have nothing to commit to at the moment.

"If you're not playing games while other teams are playing games then yea, you're going backwards. We can't escape this. There's no magic wand. The only way to develop your team is to play games."

Hudson also attacked the culture of football in New Zealand.

"This is the second Christmas I've been here and I just don't understand how the whole of the footballing world shuts down, I don't get it. We don't play games then we completely shut down while all our competitors are in competition. It's such a casual laid back environment that colours everything we do. There's no accountability in anything that we do here. When I sit with players over the Christmas period and they're more interested in having a couple of days down at the beach, when they're overweight, they're not sharp, but trying to get professional contracts. It's delusional.

"There's no point in me being here if I don't speak about this. It got to boiling point over Christmas when I was speaking to players."

Hudson, who also oversees the national under-23, under-20 and under-17 men's programmes, said the laid-back culture of the game in New Zealand is directly contributing to the countries top footballers falling short of their potential.

"The way we're living and working is so far removed from the realities of where we need to be as young players to make it as footballers. It's delusional. And worse still, which makes the players worse, we have parents and people around these players that add to the problem by telling them how good they are. There's zero accountability with the players and they are simply not prepared when they head overseas."

The All Whites have played six games under Hudson's guidance, losing to Uzbekistan, Thailand and South Korea, drawing with Myanmar and China and, most recently, beating Oman.

"When I came in I had to rebuild the team. We've had so many debutants, 15 or 16 debutants and it's really not good, it's not right, it's far too many in six games but that's just a reflection of where we are.

"We've had the ineligibility case which has affected eight or nine players which people don't realise, we've had injuries. As of today I'm yet to name the same team twice.

"This group of players keeps me hopeful and hanging on really, but it's challenging. I'm here to coach and we want games and we have an ambition to go to the World Cup but it's difficult because we don't have a programme at the moment."

New Zealand Football chief executive Andy Martin was on holiday and could not be reached for comment.

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