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NZ women’s coach placed on leave after player complaints

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Wellington, New Zealand (AP) The coach of New Zealand’s women’s football team has been placed on leave pending an investigation of complaints about his conduct from members of the national team.

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The complaints centered around tactics Andreas Heraf used in a recent home international against Japan and his comments to media after that match. Players reportedly objected to the defensive nature of Heraf’s tactics in the 3-1 loss.

New Zealand Football chief executive Andy Martin said at a news conference on Wednesday that his organization had received a letter from the New Zealand Professional Footballers Association, containing letters of complaint from 13 national team members.

Defending his approach at a news conference after the match, Heraf said the New Zealand players would never have the “quality” to compete with a team of Japan’s ability and might have lost 8-0 if they had not adopted a defensive style.

Further reports have emerged of player concerns about Heraf’s behavior, including allegations of bullying.

Martin was repeatedly questioned at the news conference about when New Zealand Football first had notice of the players’ concerns about Heraf. He insisted he was not aware of any problems until the letter from the NZPFA containing the players’ complaints was released on Monday.

In a statement, New Zealand Football Chairman Deryck Shaw said player welfare was “of utmost importance.”

“We hold player welfare as a matter of utmost importance and that is why we are conducting a thorough, independent review. We want to ensure we better understand these issues in an objective review. There is no place for inappropriate behavior of any kind with New Zealand Football.”

New Zealand women footballers rebel against national coach

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Wellington, New Zealand (AP) Only weeks after New Zealand Football made headlines by signing a revolutionary equal pay deal with its female players, the organization is facing a mutiny by members of its women’s team against the national coach.

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New Zealand Football confirmed on Tuesday it had received a letter signed by a number of New Zealand players complaining about the methods and tactics employed by Austria-born coach Andreas Heraf.

The complaints follow the New Zealand team’s recent 3-1 loss at home to Japan. Heraf angered his players, and fans of the Football Ferns national team, by taking an entirely defensive game plan into the rare home international.

Heraf then further angered his players with comments defending his approach.

He said there was “a big difference in quality” between the New Zealand and Japanese players and that New Zealand “will never have that quality” to compete with top teams like Japan. He said the scoreline might have been 8-0 if New Zealand had not adopted a defensive approach.

One of New Zealand’s leading players, United States-based Abby Erceg, retired after playing 132 matches for New Zealand, citing Heraf’s approach in previous international matches.

She later told New Zealand media: “I couldn’t stand to wear that (national symbol) on my chest any more when his vision was to cower in a corner and not get beat by too much.”

New Zealand Football defended Heraf against the media and public criticism but admitted his comments were “strange” and “wrong” and did not accurately reflect his views. Heraf later apologized and said he had not expressed himself clearly.

But efforts to dampen the controversy have failed. New Zealand Football said in a statement it had “received a letter from the NZ Professional Footballers Association (NZPFA) last night with a number of complaints from the players of the Football Ferns.”

The mutiny comes only weeks after New Zealand gained international headlines for a deal which gives female pay parity with their male counterparts.

New Zealand Football signed the deal which provided female players with equal match payments, travel arrangements and prize money.

At the time, New Zealand women’s captain Ali Riley said the deal meant New Zealand would “be able to compete against the top teams, to be able to do well at a World Cup and the Olympics – this is what we needed.”

Moyes “embarrassed” in Wales, updates scary Reid injury

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David Moyes is bitterly disappointed in his players as West Ham United dipped closer to the relegation zone with a 4-1 hammering in Wales.

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Swansea scored early and often, and the Irons could only manage a Michail Antonio consolation marker in the 78th minute.

The loss has the Irons just three points above the drop zone, and Moyes doesn’t need X’s and O’s or a tactics board to break down the loss, taking the blame for his players’ poor performance.

From the BBC:

“We played so bad. I couldn’t assess it, it was that poor.

“The fans travelled through the snow to get here and we let them down badly. That was the poorest performance since I came here. I’m embarrassed.”

There’s reason to be concerned, as West Ham’s run-in is dastardly: Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City are all on the docket, and Leicester, Everton, and Burnley aren’t walkovers. Southampton and Stoke City at home are must-win for Moyes’ men.

West Ham also had a scary injury to Winston Reid, in which the New Zealand defender was stretchered off with his neck in a brace after his knee bent in grotesque fashion.

Moyes admitted the knee is a bigger concern than the head, which is good considering the player was knocked unconscious.

“Winston Reid is conscious, he was knocked out, we are more worried about the injury to his knee than the knock to his head. He’s an important player for us so we hope it’s not too bad.”

Hudson could be coming to Colorado at long last

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Up-and-coming manager Anthony Hudson is up and coming to America.

The 36-year-old British boss has been linked with the Colorado Rapids gig for some time, and the New Zealand Herald is calling the move a “done deal.”

Hudson nearly led New Zealand to the World Cup after a dominant run through Oceania qualifying, which is nothing new, though the Kiwis were unable to pip Peru in the interconfederation playoff.

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It would be a very promising hire for Colorado. Hudson is a meticulous planner and tactician, and quite willing to take risks.

Hudson is Seattle-born and the son of former Chelsea player Alan Hudson, who played several years with Seattle Sounders (indoor and out). Anthony Hudson started his managerial career in the American fourth-tier PDL before moving onto Newport County, Bahrain, and New Zealand.

The Rapids have made the MLS Cup Playoffs just twice in the last six seasons, and won just seven games this season.

Peru tops New Zealand, lands final World Cup berth

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Jefferson Farfan’s first half goal and a terrific second half save from Pedro Gallese led Peru to a 2-0 home win and the final place in the 2018 World Cup.

Christian Ramos also scored for Peru, which earns its first World Cup berth since 1982 and gives CONMEBOL five teams in the World Cup.

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Farfan, 33, laced a slightly-deflected offering past first half star Stefan Marinovic in in the 27th minute to give Peru the lead.

Still, New Zealand’s fate didn’t change much. The Kiwis would need an away goal to put them in Russia.

Second half sub Chris Wood of Burnley nearly provided it, but Gallese was wise to the threat.