Fi­nal whis­tle

All Whites great calls it a day

Herald on Sunday - - SPORT - By Michael Burgess

For­mer Phoenix star Paul Ifill has ques­tioned New Zealand Foot­ball’s method in ap­point­ing the next All Whites coach, say­ing their pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with qual­i­fi­ca­tions may not pro­duce the right re­sult.

NZF chief ex­ec­u­tive Andy Martin and new tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor An­dreas Heraf have em­pha­sised that a Fifa Pro Li­cence — the high­est coach­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tion in the world — is manda­tory for An­thony Hud­son’s suc­ces­sor.

That’s de­spite the fact the pro li­cence course can­not be done in this coun­try, which lim­its the pos­si­bil­i­ties for lo­cal ap­pli­cants.

Ifill says the value of the pro li­cence shouldn’t be over­es­ti­mated.

“In my ca­reer, I’ve come across plenty of pro li­cence coaches who’ve had no idea what they were do­ing,” said Ifill. “You have to be re­ally care­ful. Some guys are great ‘pre­sen­ta­tion’ coaches . . . and it all looks good on a Pow­erPoint.

“But then ac­tu­ally get­ting from there to the grass, and cre­at­ing an en­vi­ron­ment where play­ers can learn and de­velop and un­der­stand sys­tems, and deal­ing with the dress­ing room, that’s com­pletely dif­fer­ent.”

Ifill was a pro­fes­sional foot­baller for 11 years in Eng­land, in­clud­ing more than 200 ap­pear­ances for Mill­wall and stints at Sh­effield United and Crys­tal Palace. He also did things the hard way, re­jected by Wat­ford at the age of 16, be­fore be­ing spot­ted by Mill­wall play­ing non­league foot­ball.

His time at the Phoenix co­in­cided with a golden pe­riod at the Welling­ton club, in­clud­ing two mem­o­rable fi­nals runs, and he is seen as the best im­port in their his­tory.

At 38, the Tas­man as­sis­tant coach is still per­form­ing — he grabbed a hat-trick last week in the ISPS Handa Premier­ship — and has also set up acad­e­mies in Nel­son and Master­ton.

“Don’t get me wrong, the coach­ing badges are im­por­tant,” said Ifill. “But just be­cause you have one doesn’t mean you know ex­actly what you are do­ing. It’s means you are qual­i­fied.

“I’ve had very good and very bad pro li­cence coaches coach me, some that I would never put in charge of an un­der-12 team, let alone a na­tional team. You have to be re­ally care­ful. They just give you the tools you need to use the knowl­edge you’ve al­ready got.”

NZF’s stance ap­pears to pri­ori­tise the the­o­ret­i­cal over the prac­ti­cal. Qual­i­fi­ca­tions should not be dis­counted but should be down the peck­ing or­der in terms of cri­te­ria.

Ifill also cau­tions against rush­ing the de­ci­sion — “it’s not like we have any im­por­tant games for a while” — and the cur­rent process seems quite hasty, es­pe­cially com­pared with pre­vi­ous searches which landed Ricki Her­bert (2005) and Hud­son (2014) re­spec­tively.

How­ever, Heraf main­tains the new coach will be ap­pointed in time for the friendly match against Canada in Spain on March 7.

He added that NZF don’t have a plan B for that game, such is their cer­tainty — “we don’t think about it be­cause we will have a coach”.

Heraf said there are sev­eral names still in con­tention, con­trary to ru­mours in the foot­ball com­mu­nity that it is a short list of one.

“[It is] a few,” con­firmed Heraf. “I don’t think it is nec­es­sary to de­ter­mine a cer­tain num­ber of peo­ple. [The list] is get­ting shorter and it is a few. It’s more than one.”

Paul Ifill (left) is coach­ing and play­ing for Tas­man United.

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