From one football coach to another, Brett Angell says it doesn't surprise him at all fellow Central Football employee Leon Birnie has captured the imagination of the world, never mind the country in the past few days.

"I have said when he first took on the role that I believe he's just showing the world his capabilities," says Thirsty Whale Hawke's Bay United coach Angell of Birnie, who is at the helm of New Zealand girls creating history at the Fifa Under-17 World Cup in Uruguay.

The Kiwis play Canada for bronze medals at Montevideo in an 8am kick off tomorrow after losing 2-0 to Spain on Thursday. Mexico and Spain face off in the final after that playoff.

"He's a decent coach and I've always believed that," says Angell who will be priming up his troops to kick off against Tasman United at Trafalgar Park, Nelson, at 2pm tomorrow.


"I feel he's letting people know what his capabilities are and to a wider audience."

The Englishman, who also plied his trade in the Premier League in his birth country, says Birnie's accomplishments are great for him, the region and New Zealand.

"You know, it's the fairytale-type thing. I've spoken to him and he wanted to create some sort of history and he's done that," he says, suspecting Birnie's been flying under the radar but is now on it.

"It just gives it a positive feel around what it is. I'm just so happy he's been able to put all that together and he should be very proud of what he's done."

The Englishman says it will be nice if Birnie and his brigade go down in the history books.

"It'll be just great to finish as high as possible because that's what goes down in the history books," he says. "Yes, it could be a fourth place but it would be lovely for it to be a third-place finish because it's as good as anybody has done."

Angell says Birnie has covered himself in glory but it's probably nothing that he didn't think he's capable of doing.

"Now he's in a group where he can really express what he can do as a coach, hopefully, it might take him to another level so I don't know."


Nevertheless, for the premiership mentor the revelations this week from the Bay franchise that it's in the financial doldrums and needs $50,000 to see their 2018-19 campaign through have somewhat stolen the thunder from the players in the park.

Angell says the financial position of the franchise isn't ideal but it's something that has plagued it since the day he started coaching the team in the summer of 2014-15.

"I think the boys were aware of it so things have been explained to them and we hope things will start to change in that regard."

However, he says the playing unit cannot change fiscal matters off the park but can have an impact in the premiership to make it an even more attractive entity.

What Bay United won't do is use the franchise caught up in the financial doldrums as an escape clause when they underachieve.

"Obviously in the down bits it is on the players' minds but, realistically, when we're in the football environment we need to push that outside to make sure we're, performance wise, very positive and then move on from week to week and, hopefully, the situation will rectify itself in the not-too-distant future."

The Birhanu Taye-captained Bay United have turned their fortunes around with a gritty 2-all draw against Team Wellington a fortnight ago before walloping Waitakere United 4-0 to break a home ground hoodoo at Bluewater Stadium dating back to a winless patch there last season.

Hawke's Bay United coach Brett Angell had appointed Leon Birnie his assistant coach in the summer of 2014-15. Photo/file
Hawke's Bay United coach Brett Angell had appointed Leon Birnie his assistant coach in the summer of 2014-15. Photo/file

It isn't lost on Angell and his troops that accruing wins has the propensity to change the complexion of the franchise's realm of existence.

Despite the sluggish start to their season, he feels Bay United have found fluency to reap the rewards.

Tasman United also have only one match this summer but sit a rung below, two points adrift of eighth-placed Bay United owing to the latter's two draws in the 10-team premiership.

Coach Andy Hedge and his cohorts will have ticked the box against the visitors but may need to revisit their blueprint on account of the latter's late resurgence.

"What we have to do now is go down to build momentum, win games of football and, hopefully, with that the confidence will start to seep through."

Cursory glances at the premiership table can lead to Bay United becoming unstuck.

His mantra is to avoid the paper psychological warfare, give Tasman the respect they deserve and take ownership of their true-and-tried systems.

Player/assistant coach Paul Ifill, akin to Daniel Allan, Cameron Lindsay, Cory Chettleburgh and Taye, have served both tribes but while he values their input it's not an overriding factor.

"I don't think it's about going back to Tasman to prove a point," he says. "I think it's about what we're setting out to do and applying that."


Tasman Utd: 1. Keegan Smith (GK), 2. Sam Ayers, 3. Edward Sillars, 5. Fox Slotemaker, 6. Bertie Fish, 7. Corey Larsen, 8. Matt Tod-Smith, 10. Kiernan Hughes-Mason, 11. Alex Ridsdale, 12. Ahmed Othman, 13. James McClay, 14. Ryan Worrall, 15. Max Winterton, 18. Ben Kiore, 20. Nick Stanton (RGK), 21. Jordan Yong.
Coach: Andy Hedge.

Hawke's Bay Utd: 1. Mackenzie Waite (GK), 2. Anders Eriksson, 3. Liam Schofield, 4. Cameron Lindsay, 5. Joseph Zupo, 6. Daniel Allan, 7. Cory Chettleburgh, 8. Paul Ifill, 9. Sam Mason-Smith, 10. Sho Goto, 11. Maxime Oliveri, 14. Birhanu Taye (c), 21. Bjorn Christensen, 22. Karan Mandair, 23. Jorge Akers, 26. Alexander Britton (RGK).
Coach: Brett Angell.