Auckland City coach Ramon Tribulietx has put his hand up to be the next All Whites coach, while current assistant Neil Emblen is content to stay in that role.
The search for Ricki Herbert's successor has been put on hold until newly appointed New Zealand Football chief executive Andy Martin starts work in February.
In the meantime, NZ Football are undergoing a review of the failed World Cup qualifying campaign, while chairman Frank van Hattum has indicated the job will be advertised internationally.
Tribulietx and Emblen are the two leading domestic candidates should a global manhunt come up short.
A Spaniard, Tribulietx has made a strong impression since arriving in Auckland in 2008, initially as assistant coach of the national league side. The now 41-year-old has been head coach since 2011, winning the Oceania Champions League three times in succession with an attractive, possession-based style.
For an amateur club they have also been competitive at the Club World Cup in losses to Japanese clubs Kashiwa Reysol (2-0 in 2011), Sanfrecce Hiroshima (1-0 in 2012) and Morocco's Raja Casablanca (2-1 last week).
"I feel like I'm ready to step up in my career," said Tribulietx, who added he was also very happy at City. "I'm in a good space right now and I'd be prepared for that.
"It would be an honour to be considered for the position. I think there's a great opportunity in the next few years. There's a new generation of players in Europe that are technically very good. Marco Rojas, Ryan Thomas is going really well in Holland, and there's another bunch of players in the premier league and championship in England. I think the game in Europe is being played in a different way, more possession-based, and there's opportunity in the next few years, with these players being technically a little bit more capable of a change of style."
Emblen, 42, is a former English professional who came to play for the New Zealand Knights in 2005 and never left.
He coached Waitakere United to a hat-trick of national league titles between 2009-12 and earned praise from Ryan Nelsen for his head coaching at the 2012 London Olympics. Herbert appointed Emblen as his assistant last year but, like the rest of the All Whites staff, he came off contract following last month's Mexico games.
Emblen said his preference would be to stay on as the All Whites assistant and coach New Zealand at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
But if NZ Football asked him to apply for the top job, he would.
"I'm not saying it would scare me but this is a different kettle of fish," Emblen said.
"Some people would feel it's a big jump and because there's not many professional opportunities to coach in New Zealand, with pro players, I haven't got that on my CV. If I keep helping produce players and keep being successful at the clubs I'm in, then maybe one day that time will come. But I'm really in no rush for it. I'd rather just still be in the mix, than have a go at things too early or when the timing's not right."
The All Whites' next game is against Japan in Tokyo on March 5.
There is a strong chance that a permanent coach won't be found by that time and Emblen could be asked to do the job on an interim basis.
All Whites striker Jeremy Brockie said Emblen had impressed him.
"He likes to keep the ball and play a possession game," Brockie said.
"He's a very hard worker; obviously with his time as a player he's very professional and he has a lot of respect from the boys. If he gets an opportunity I think all the boys would buy into it."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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