Former Football Ferns captain Abby Erceg, from Whangārei, has continued her criticism of current coach Andreas Heraf as the fallout from his post-match comments continues.

New Zealand fell 3-1 to Japan in a dour effort which saw an overriding emphasis on parking the bus on the defensive end.

Following the match, Heraf said they couldn't compete with the talent Japan possesses given New Zealand's small playing pool.

But the Whangārei defender bit back at his criticism on Instagram.

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In a post featuring a photo from when she was on the national team, Erceg restated what representing her country meant to her.

"These girls mean everything to me," she wrote.

"I've grown up with them and probably spent more time with them than my own family.

"This shirt and that fern represent what it means to be a Kiwi, the mindset and the attitude, the qualities and essence of being a New Zealander all rest on the stitching of that shirt.

"When I put it on, that's what I want to represent along with the millions of people behind it and the blood, sweat and tears that went into earning it.''

Heraf's post-match comments have come under fire as he seemed to clearly spell out that he did not believe New Zealand had the players to even challenge the top teams in world football.

Japan, ranked No.11 in the world, are only nine spots high than the Kiwi side, yet Heraf's game plan didn't give them a chance.

Erceg, who retired in 2017 before making a brief comeback in early 2018, told Stuff it was obvious why she couldn't remain in the side.

The 28-year-old said she couldn't represent New Zealand knowing Heraf's mindset was the
status quo.

"To put [the fern] on for any lesser reason is a disservice to the girls, to my country and myself," she said.

"I want to play to win every time, coming into that field swinging punches, kicking and screaming if I have to before I concede anything.

"I'd rather lose by one saying 'we f***ing went for it' than cowering in a corner.

"That's my mindset and if you tell me I can't do that then I can no longer represent that shirt with pride or conviction but I will always stick up for those girls.

"That's the least I can do."