New Zealand Football head of football development Bev
Priestman and New Zealand Football chief executive Grant
McKavanagh at Forsyth Barr Stadium yesterday. Photo by
The resignation of Ricki Herbert from the Phoenix can
only benefit the national side, the boss of New Zealand
New Zealand Football chief executive Grant McKavanagh, who
was in Dunedin yesterday, said he could comment on the
relationship between Herbert and the Phoenix.
''That is private between Ricki and the Phoenix, but it is an
opportunity for us with a big game coming up on March 22,''
''It gives him a great opportunity to really sharpen the
focus on this game.''
The All Whites are scheduled to take on New Caledonia at
Forsyth Barr Stadium on March 22, in a vital World Cup
qualifier, which should the New Zealanders win, will get them
into a playoff to decide whether they make it to next year's
''I would expect Ricki to leave no stone unturned as he
prepares for this game, now that he is free from the Phoenix.
''This is a big, big game for the All Whites and one I know
many of the players are looking forward to. They see it as
another part of the adventure of their footballing lives.''
McKavanagh, who has previously lived in Dunedin, was buoyed
by the crowd which attended a Warriors league game at the
stadium last Saturday night.
''We would be happy with a crowd of that size but, to be
honest, we would love to sell it out.''
A crowd of 15,345 attended the Warriors match.
He said a couple of New Zealand Football officials would be
in Dunedin on Sunday to view the match between the Phoenix
and Melbourne Heart to get a feel of how things operated at
If the All Whites win on March 22, a decision would be made
shortly afterwards on where the playoff game would be played
in New Zealand.
It is to be played against the fourth-placed Concacaf (North
and Central America and Caribbean) nation. McKavanagh said it
was a straight choice between Auckland's Eden Park and
Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Forsyth Barr Stadium was not big enough for a game of that
magnitude, he said.
McKavanagh was in Dunedin to discuss with clubs the new
football strategic plan for the next three years and said
clubs appeared to be accepting of the whole of football plan.
''Like anything, there was a bit of apprehension when
something new is started but generally we think there has
been an acceptance at what we are trying to do.''
McKavanagh said the results of the new plan would not be
borne out for another decade as players fully matured.
He also sounded a word of warning about foreign clubs setting
up academies in this country.
''New Zealand is untapped in terms of talent and progressive
pathways. Now we have teams in the under-17s, the under-20s
at World Cups they are in the shop front window... but people
need to be clear what they are getting involved in. It is a