Canada hires women’s coach Herdman to coach men’s team

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Canada has named women’s national team coach John Herdman as its new men’s national team coach and technical director, replacing Octavio Zambrano in an unprecedented move.

According to a report by Canadian soccer publication Soccer Today, Herdman was offered the England women’s national team job, and used that as leverage to win himself the men’s job. As a result, according to the report, Zambrano was a casualty in a move that first and foremost was about keeping Herdman in the system.

Zambrano was hired to lead the national team in March, most notably leading the team to its first Gold Cup knockout stage since 2009 as the team finished second in group A before losing 2-1 to Jamaica in the quarterfinals.

Herdman, meanwhile, has never coached on the men’s side at the international level. The English-born coach led the New Zealand women’s team from 2006-2011 before moving to the Canadian women’s team where he has been the head man since.

“We felt as an organization that we needed to make some decisions for the longer term and our long-term philosophy, looking at growth of the men’s national team program and the youth development program. In terms of that review, we determined that we had the ideal candidate internally in John Herdman,” Canada Soccer president Steve Reed told Sportsnet.

Herdman said he had informed the Canadian federation earlier this year that he was interested in moving to the men’s game. “From a motivational side, you get to that point in your career where you’re starting to feel ready for a new challenge, and the stars sort of aligned in some ways that some opportunities were presented in front of us…They were very good opportunities. I had some tough decisions to make and that led towards keeping a future here in Canada,” Herdman said to Sportsnet.

Kenneth Heiner-Møller, an assistant under Herdman on the women’s side, will take over as women’s head coach and program director.