21 Nov 2009

Herbert picks club above country, but NZ Football understands

8:34 am on 21 November 2009

New Zealand Football's come out in support of the decision by All Whites and Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert not to attend next month's World Cup draw in South Africa.

The draw clashed with a home Phoenix game against Melbourne and while NZ Football chairman Frank van Hattum would've liked Herbert there with him, he says he understands.

Van Hattum will have to field the massive media interest following the draw alone, Herbert also missing out on the chance to inspect facilities as well as potentially arrange friendlies before the tournament in June-July.

Van Hattum says that's how the pre-Confederations Cup friendly with world champions Italy was arranged, following the draw in South Africa.

And he's hinted that a full-time New Zealand coach could be appointed after the World Cup.

Herbert's twin contracts with NZ Football and the Phoenix run out in July and van Hattum says of course Herbert would be considered if he were interested.

Meanwhile the All Whites have climbed six places to 77th in the latest FIFA world rankings after beating Bahrain to qualify for next year's World Cup. New Zealand moves above El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago, Belarus, Wales and Uganda while Bahrain remain unchanged at 61st.

Spain are now top, leapfrogging Brazil, while the Netherlands and Italy remain unchanged at third and fourth respectively and Portugal are fifth, pipping Germany.