Football: Abby Erceg slams Football Ferns coach for negative approach

National coach Heraf and Erceg.
National coach Heraf and Erceg. Photo credit: Photosport

Former New Zealand captain Abby Erceg has attacked Football Ferns coach Andreas Heraf's negative approach to their defeat at the hands of Japan.

The Austrian has been heavily criticised by the country's leading football commentators for his ultra-defensive approach in his team's 3-1 loss to Japan in Wellington on Sunday.

Heraf claimed in the post-match press conference that his tactics were to ensure New Zealand didn't suffer an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the world's No.10-ranked side.

Erceg, an 132-cap veteran, retired last month with reports she was unhappy with the new coaching regime.

Speaking to Stuff, Erceg said she feels justified in stepping away.

"You can see how I couldn't stand to wear that fern on my chest any more when his vision was to cower in a corner and not get beat by too much," Erceg said.

"I don't work my butt off to get to Olympics or World Cups to not get beat by too much."

Erceg went on to question Heraf's character and mindset, stressing she is extremely concerned with the direction of the women's game under the Austrian's watch.

The Football Ferns made huge strides under previous coach Tony Readings, and currently hold 20th place in the world rankings.

Heraf has defended his approach despite intense scrutiny following the 3-1 loss.

"You could lose 8-0 against a team like they are. It's not a negative mindset, it's a smart one," Heraf told a reporter who asked why the Ferns' lack of attacking threat.

"Could you imagine how negative the mindset would be if we lost 6-1 for example?"

"If you're honest we could concede five, six, seven or eight, and then it would be really interesting what you would tell me here if we conceded six, seven or eight."

New Zealand Football said it was unable to provide comment to Newshub.