Report: Herdman Linked With New Zealand
UPDATE: John Herdman has released a statement confirming that he had turned down an offer from New Zealand Football, with Canada Soccer confirming he is contracted through to the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
Having helped breath new life into the Canadian national team program, it looks like John Herdman may be on the precipice of moving on to new (or old, rather) pastures.
NewsHub reporter Andrew Gourdie has reported that Herdman has agreed to personal terms with New Zealand, who have identified him as the preferred replacement for Danny Hay.
Herdman and the Ferns have yet to commit pen to paper, however, so all is not yet said and done – especially with a reported personal matter delaying New Zealand’s official hire.
The country’s head coach post has been vacant since Danny Hay departed following last year’s World Cup intercontinental playoff defeat to Costa Rica, despite the fact that association had asked him to re-apply after his contract expired.
Following what was described as a thorough recruitment process, Gourdie’s sources state that New Zealand Football identified Herdman as ‘the clear top pick’ of the bunch following his success with Canada and, of course, prior experience in New Zealand too.
Andrew Pragnell, the chief executive for the governing body, didn’t give a specific name, but confirmed that while personal terms had been agreed with their chosen candidate, a personal situation has put ahold the formal process for the moment.
That means that Darren Bazeley will lead the side as an interim coach though two home matches against China in March, with New Zealand Football stating that ‘the leading candidate for the permanent All Whites head coach role’ was unavailable for these fixtures due to a family health issue.
Herdman’s coaching career had began in New Zealand, where his first taste of it at the international level saw him coach the country’s U-20 women’s team through the 2006 and 2010 FIFA U-20 World Championships, whilst also leading the senior team to two FIFA Women’s World Cup appearances in 2007 and 2011.
Herdman then set eyes on Canada, replacing Carolina Morace as the Canadian women’s national team coach in 2011, sparking some immediate success with a gold Pan American Games win.
Two bronze medals would follow in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, along with a quarter-final appearance in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
He then shocked fans of his own team with a sudden move over to the men’s side, where he breathed new life into a relatively stagnant national team program that saw Canada enjoy a drastic rise in stature: they were named FIFA’s Most Improved Side in 22, peaking at 33 in global rankings before he helped the team lock in its first FIFA Men’s World Cup berth since 1986.
It was with Herdman on the sidelines when Canada finally got its first FIFA Men’s World Cup goal in Qatar, and though the team didn’t progress from the group stage they put on a solid showing that resulted in the European transfers of several national team members.
With Canada set to co-host the 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup, there had been expectations that Herdman would remain in place to guide Les Rouges through the historic moment – but the call home to New Zealand looks to be a strong one, per Gourdie.
The Canada head coach lived in New Zealand from 2003 to 2011, with his son being born there and currently representing the New Zealand U-20 national team.
While the recruitment process for New Zealand’s next head coach is stalled, it’d be a great hire for New Zealand if they manage to lock Herdman into the position. Conversely, there’s no doubt that Canadian fans would be loath to see him go.
Canada Soccer has not commented on the news thus far, with Herdman still under contract with the team.
One has to wonder if conflict with Nick Bontis and interactions with the CSA circus had anything to do with his departure.
John was the only reason Canada had any success whatsoever. With his departure, I fully expect a return to the good (bad) ol’ days.