Attitude of top young players still has All Whites coach Anthony Hudson scratching his head
All Whites coach Anthony Hudson remains unimpressed by the attitude of some of New Zealand's best young footballers.
It is almost a year to the day since Hudson hit out, frustrated at the lack of professionalism being displayed by a host of talented up-and-coming players.
"Horrified" at what he had seen and heard over the 2015 Christmas period, he went as far as saying it was a "soft, laid-back environment" and an "epidemic".
While he acknowledged it was not an issue that could be solved overnight, 12 months on Hudson felt it remained all too common-place.
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"I'm still scratching my head," he said.
"We just had a couple days training with under-20s on January 2nd and 3rd. The boys came up and worked really hard but there were also grumblings because it ate into their holiday time.
"Over this period I've had so many accounts of young kids who would rather have been at festivals or down at the beach than getting in front of the national under-20s coach.
"I was [also] present and if you are young player you had to be there. It starts now by getting up on January the 2nd and being in front of the national team coach."
When he spoke out last year, Hudson felt he was "almost a lone voice", adding that no-one kept the young players in question accountable.
The positive news, he said, was that had changed and not only were many coaches now aware of it, they were constantly reinforcing it.
The disappointing part was that message still wasn't being properly taken on board by a number of players.
Hudson had no problem with young players going off and having a good time but said those players were not going to make it as professional footballers.
And the under-20s squad were not alone in the regard, he said.
"It's not just that group, there have definitely been other players off doing other things during this period.
"I'm amazed on one hand they say they want to be a professional footballer and the other they miss a big chunk of training periods because they want to be off down the beach.
"Some young players need to get honest about it."
Hudson added while those players were at festivals, at the bach or at the beach, players of similar age on the other side of the world continued to work hard towards their goals.
He would continue "banging the drum" and said it was important they were not deluding youngsters into thinking they were doing everything right when they weren't.
The All Whites coach had a similarly frank assessment around that group of players in relation to Fifa confirming the expansion of the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams from 2026.
Asked if that would change the mindset of up-and-coming players in New Zealand, Hudson said it should not be necessary.
"It shouldn't take that to have them think, 'well now I've got even bigger chance'.
"If young players in this country don't see they have an unbelievable opportunity to get onto the world stage by working really hard and getting into age-group teams and the All Whites, then I don't know if they ever will.
"I don't think a change in World Cup scenario will change the mentality, young kids coming up in New Zealand now either know it and want it bad enough, or they don't."