Kiwi to coach PNG U-23

Former New Zealand professional footballer and New Zealand head coach Ricki Herbert has been tasked with the biggest assignment as he fine tunes, assesses, assembles and puts the best team forward for the qualifiers.

Herbert is also a former Wellington Phoenix coach in the A-League competition in Australia.

The Pacific Games soccer will be used as the Olympic Qualifier with New Zealand also taking part including Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) members and associate members.

Herbert will take the reigns of his new job this month as the U-23 selected side goes into camp at the PNGFA academy in Lae.

Herbert will be assisted by mentor coach Milan Miric and Reginald Davani as assistant coach.

The U-23 camp will start on March 16 and conclude on March 19. There are about 30 players selected so far.

The U-23 team will also tour Solomon Islands for friendly matches a week after the camp. The proposed dates for the matches will be confirmed by PNGFA.

The U-23 team will play Solympics and Western United FC on separate dates as lead up matches. There are plans for more international matches but this will be confirmed at a later date.

OFC and PNGFA president David Chung said Herbert brings with him a wealth of experience to the team.

“Not many around the world have been to two FIFA World Cups especially in the Pacific region. One as a player and other as a head coach,” Chung said.

“Herbert has this quality and he has also coached other teams in the Pacific so his experience of island football and knowledge of other island countries will be bonus for our preparation.”

Chung said Herbert was specifically hired for the Pacific Games and PNGFA will review his contract after the Games in preparation for the World Cup qualifiers.

Herbert as a player featured in New Zealand team during the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain and helped guided the All Whites to the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Herbert is the second manager and the only New Zealand to the FIFA World Cup for a second time when his side qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup by winning World Cup qualifying play-off against Bahrain.

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