We discuss John Herdman's amazing switch from coaching Canada's women's national team to the men's side and the implications for both teams. We also review the Republic of Ireland and Denmark's roster for important friendlies this month ahead of the resumption of UEFA Women's World Cup Qualifiers in the spring. John Herdman switches national teams in Canada—former Danish national team head coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller will now lead the women's side.
Hugely successful Canadian National Women's Team Head Coach John Herdman has taken charge of the Canadian National Men's Team, replacing former head coach Octavio Zambrano, who was in charge of the Maple Leaf men for only 9 months and reportedly fell out with federation officials. Zambrano previously coached teams in MLS, Moldova, Hungary, Colombia and his home country of Ecuador. On the women's side, Kenneth Heiner-Møller will take over as Women's National Team Head Coach and Women's National EXCEL (Development Program) Director after serving as an Assistant Coach alongside Herdman since 2015, including during the Rio 2016 Olympic when the side won their second consecutive Bronze Medal. Heiner-Møller was Denmark's Women's National Team Coach from 2006 to 2013, after a year in charge of Brondby's Women's side. He took Denmark to the 2007 Women's World Cup in China, where his team fell at the Group Stage, finishing third behind Brazil and China, but defeating New Zealand (coached by Herdman at the time) 2-0.
Additionally, Bev Priestman—a native of England who previously worked with Herdman in New Zealand—will assume the role of Women's National EXCEL Director U15-U23 and Women's National Team Assistant Coach. Priestman led Canada U-17's to the 2016 Women's World Cup, where they finished third in their first round group, behind Germany and Venezuela but ahead of Cameroon.
Herdman took over from Italian Carolina Morace after Canada finished last in the 2011 Women's World Cup Final in Germany. Six years in Canada and he has two Olympic Bronze medals and a sixth place finish at the 2015 WWC that they hosted. A Canada Soccer press release explained: "In his new role, Herdman will take over responsibility for the Men's National Team through to all men's national youth teams from the U-14 age level and up. As he has done with Canada Soccer's Women's Program, his new role will see him further build an alignment through the age-groups and with key stakeholders to standardize and develop consistent tactical approaches, and refine youth programming to ensure a constant supply of elite players to Canada Soccer's Men's National Team. In streamlining the talent development structure, Herdman will ensure the strategic focus, resources and attention are channeled to the areas where it is needed most, while further maximizing the potential of Canada's best players."
Herdman's departure is certainly a loss for the women's game. The Newcastle native had coached New Zealand into two Women's World Cups (2007 and 2011) before coming to Canada. If he can galvanize the Canadian men like he has the women, Canada could make the 2022 World Cup in Qatar—their first berth in the World Finals since 1986—their lone appearance on the world stage. This reporter was at that 1986 World Cup for Canada's opening match in Leon, Mexico, in which they narrowly lost to France 1-0. Canada ended up last in their group after a pair of 2-0 defeats to Hungary and Russia but was at a severe disadvantage as the North American Soccer League had folded two years before. Canada's men lost in regional qualifiers to Australia for the 1994 tournament but since that time has not even made the CONCACAF Final Round of 6 teams for the 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014 games.
This coaching decision by Canada of switching Herdman from the men's side to the women's was a surprise and historic as well. In a country where the women's side has received more support, funding and attention than the men's side has for years (and which one former men's national team coach once told me how difficult that was to compete against and which he was unprepared for) since Norwegian Even Pellerud took the national to a shocking 2003 Women's World Cup fourth place finish against all odds, Canada Soccer needs to balance improving the men's side without gutting the women's program. Herdman is a quality coach and individual who I have known since before the 2007 World Cup; he certainly is qualified to do his new job well. In the meantime, the pressure will be on Heiner-Møller to continue to build on Herdman's success with the women. Bev Priestman's promotion to lead assistant should put her in good stead to eventually take over the program; she has been impressive in her youth development roles and deserves a lead national team coaching role in the next few years.
Colin Bell selects 21 players for Republic of Ireland's trip to Portugal
The Republic of Ireland has two exhibition games this month away against Portugal in the Azores on January 18 and 21. Head Coach Colin Todd called in 21 players for the fixtures, five of who play with English sides, one in in Germany, one in France, one in the NWSL and one with Sion Swifts of Northern Ireland—a side that finished second last season in the 7 team league, three points behind Champions Linfield. Twelve of the squad play domestically in Ireland. Amy Boyle Carr, Eabha O'Mahony and Zara Foley are set to make their senior debuts after strong performances with the U-17 national team.
Ireland is ranked 29th in FIFA's national team rankings and are preparing for two World Cup qualifiers at home in April versus Slovakia and the Netherlands at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin, home of the Shamrock Rovers.
Ruesha Littlejohn (Celtic of Scotland) and Claire Walsh (UCD Waves of the Republic of Ireland after playing collegiately at Central Connecticut State University) will be out with injuries, while Stephanie Roche (Sunderland after brief stints in France and with the Houston Dash in the NWSL) and Aine O'Gorman (UCD Waves) are progressing well with respective injuries but are still not yet able to play. Midfielder Megan Connolly should play again this spring when released by Florida State University. Bell's squad will not compete in the Cyprus Cup this spring and will instead have a training camp at Fota Island Resort, Cork. The training camp will begin in the final week of February as Todd explained: "I've decided against competing in the Cyprus Cup this year. I believe playing four games in such a short amount of time wouldn't be very beneficial to us at this stage and we would benefit more from an intensive training camp."
Republic of Ireland WNT squad
Marie Hourihan (Manchester City—England)
Amanda Budden (Cork City WFC)
Amanda McQuillan (Shelbourne Ladies)
Sophie Perry (Brighton and Hove Albion—England)
Diane Caldwell (SC Sand--Germany)
Louise Quinn (Arsenal--England)
Harriet Scott (Reading—England)
Niamh Fahey (Bordeaux--France)
Aislinn Meaney (Galway WFC)
Eabha O'Mahony (Lakewood)
Katie McCabe (Arsenal—England)
Amber Barrett (Peamount United)
Leanne Kiernan (Shelbourne Ladies)
Heather Payne (Peamount United)
Isibeal Atkinson (Shelbourne Ladies)
Zara Foley (Lakewood)
Denmark squad for international friendly match against USA
Danish women's head coach Lars Søndergaard (58), who has coached men's clubs at home and in Austria, selected a heavily foreign-based team for the Dane's first international of the year, against the U.S. on January 21. Of the 20 squad members, six play in neighboring Sweden, two in Germany, two in England, one in France, one in Norway and one in Spain, with 7 based domestically in Denmark.
Line Geltzer Johansen – Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC (Sweden)
Stina Lykke Petersen – KoldingQ (Denmark)
Cecilie Sandvej – 1. FFC Frankfurt (Germany)
Janni Arnth Jensen – Linköpings FC (Sweden)
Mie Leth Jans – Manchester City (England)
Simone Boye Sørensen – FC Rosengård (Sweden)
Stine Ballisager Pedersen – VSK Aarhus (Denmark)
Theresa Nielsen – Vålerenga IF (Norway)
Katrine Veje – Montpellier HSC (France)
Maja Kildemoes – Linköpings FC (Sweden)
Nanna Christiansen – Brøndby IF (Denmark)
Nicoline Sørensen – Linköpings FC (Sweden)
Sanne Troelsgaard – FC Rosengård (Sweden)
Sarah Dyrehauge Hansen – Fortuna Hjørring (Denmark)
Sofie Junge Pedersen – Levante UD (Spain)
Frederikke Skjødt Thøgersen – Fortuna Hjørring (Denmark)
Nadia Nadim – Manchester City (England)
Pernille Harder – VfL Wolfsburg (Germany)
Signe Bruun – Fortuna Hjørring (Denmark)
Stine Larsen – Brøndby IF (Denmark)
Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribal Football. His latest book Beyond Bend it Like Beckham on the global game of women's football. Get your copy today.
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