John Herdman has succeeded Carolina Morace as coach of the Canadian women's soccer team.
Having most recently coached New Zealand, Herdman was officially unveiled as Canada's new bench boss Thursday by the Canadian Soccer Association.
Peter Montopoli, general secretary of the CSA, heralded the Englishman as "the ideal candidate."
"We believe he will bring the program to the next level," Montopoli told reporters during a conference call.
Herdman called it a "massive honour and a huge responsibility" to take over the coaching reins, and will try to build the team into a legitimate World Cup contender when Canada hosts the tournament in 2015.
Current FIFA world rankings
- 1 - United States
- 2 - Germany
- 3 - Brazil
- 4 - Japan
- 5 - Sweden
- 6 - England
- 7 - France
- 8 - Canada
- 24 - New Zealand
"I've been working in New Zealand now for 10 years and this opportunity came along at the right time in my career. Looking at the potential landscape in Canada, it's an amazing opportunity," Herdman stated. "When you look at the way things are set up, there's a real appetite for women's football, there's a commitment from the [CSA] to take the team to another level and you have the 2015 World Cup around the corner.
"For any coach, this is the dream move, 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 arrived in New Zealand in 2003 and led the women to the 2006 FIFA U-20 World Cup before taking over the senior team in 2007. He also acted as New Zealand's director of soccer development.
Under Herdman, the Football Ferns competed at the last two FIFA Women's World Cups (bowing out in the first round both times) and at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Herdman replaces Morace, who the CSA said quit her post in the aftermath of Canada's failed World Cup campaign this summer. Canada entered the tournament as the sixth-ranked team in the world and with high hopes for success, but ended up losing all three of its games in Germany and was eliminated in the group stage.
Under Morace, posted a 25-11-5 record and won the 2010 CONCACAF championship.
Herdman's intention is to stay the tactical course charted out by Morace. Her predecessor, Even Pellerud, preached a one-dimensional style of play that emphasized the long ball, physical strength and endurance. Morace challenged her players with a more technical style of soccer that stressed passing and possession.
"If you look at the trends in the game, players are becoming more technically gifted. The game is getting faster so players have to be more technically competent, and with that we get a more technical game," Herdman opined.
"In terms of my philosophy, it will be a case of continuing to build on what Carolina has put in place and to stay abreast with some of those top teams that are really playing a brand of football that are capturing the imaginations of people and the fans."
Herdman's first job is to prepare Canada for a pair of friendlies against the United States on Sept. 17 and 22. Canada will also compete at the Pan American Games in Mexico in late October.
"It'll be a bit of a baptism of fire going in against the U.S. but it's an important part of my induction. The first period of time with the team will be about getting to know them … and to start that assessment process," Herdman explained.
After that, he will turn his attention to the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament that will be held in Vancouver in January. The eight-team competition, which also features Mexico and the U.S., will see the two finalists earn berths for the 2012 London Games.
"Our short-term goal is to get the team ready and re-focused for the Olympic qualifiers, and then moving into hopefully qualifying for the Olympic Games in London," Herdman said.
Morace drew the ire of some critics for holding lengthy team training camps in her native Italy. Herdman said he plans to be based in Canada.
"What's really important is you have to work within the culture that players are familiar with. … I think you get the best out of players when they're feeling comfortable around who they are and where they are living. Having the program [here] is going to help us with that," Herdman said.