Herdman named head coach of Canadian women's soccer team

The Canadian Press

9/1/2011 2:51:23 PM

TORONTO -- John Herdman called the opportunity to coach a team reeling from a nightmare performance on the world stage "a dream come true."

Herdman was named head coach of Canada's women's soccer team Thursday, the first step in the recovery from a disastrous effort at the Women's World Cup in Germany.

With the next World Cup set for 2015 in Canada, Herdman said he couldn't wait to coach a host country.

"I think for any coach this is a dream move," he said on a conference call, "and I'm hoping this will be a dream come true not only for myself but for the players of the Canadian national team and for the people who are just waiting for women's football to reach its peak."

Herdman, who was born in England, has previously served as head coach of New Zealand's women's team and national director of football development. The Ferns are currently ranked 24th in the world.

He replaces Carolina Morace, who resigned after Canada's suffered three losses that resulted in a first-round exit at the World Cup. Canada was ranked sixth in the world and had sky-high expectations when they began play on June 26th, but managed just one goal during the tournament and has since dropped to eighth in the world rankings.

Morace turned in her resignation in July during an internal review. Under the 47-year-old Italian's guidance the women had a 25-11-5 record.

Herdman called his predecessor's vision a "modern approach" and added he would build on what Morace did with the team.

"The players have bought into a certain style and approach," said Herdman. "We want to build on that and I guess we want to make sure that by 2015 we really can capture the imagination of the home fans here in Canada.

"We want a team they can be proud of, we want a team they can entertain them as well as a team that's got that physical presence and spirit that people can really engage with."

Herdman arrived in New Zealand in 2003 and took on the role as coach development manager for New Zealand Football. He led the women to the 2006 U-20 World Cup before being named head coach of the senior team in 2007.

Under Herdman the Ferns have appeared in the last two Women's World Cups. At this summer's competition in Germany, New Zealand had two losses and a tie.

"We're disappointed to lose John, but he leaves with our blessing and best wishes," said New Zealand Football chief executive Grant McKavanagh in a statement. "It's a success story that shows that the kiwi coaching system can provide an international pathway for our coaches as well.

"He leaves behind a strong legacy, not just for women's football but for football development as a whole."

New Zealand also advanced to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing where the team was 0-1-2.

Peter Montopoli, the Canadian Soccer Association's general secretary, said last week a new Canadian coach would be in place before exhibition games against the United States on Sept. 17 and 22.

It's a short turnaround for Herdman between his hire and the games against the U.S., which he referred to as "a baptism of fire."

Herdman declined to say why he thinks Canada did so poorly at the World Cup, but that he plans to use upcoming games to focus on what changes need to be made.

"You've got all the ingredients to be successful so I think there will be some time where you look to see, well, what is it that we need to change to make that difference? What's the tipping point here?"

The CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament will be held in Vancouver in January. The tournament will attract eight teams including Canada, Mexico and the United States, plus three from the Caribbean and two from Central America.

The top two countries earn spots in the London Games.

The 2015 Women's World Cup will be held in Canada. The tournament will feature 24 teams, an increase from the 16 that competed in Germany.