Oly-Whites coach Emblen without an NZ club

NEW HOPES: Coach Neil Emblen.
NEW HOPES: Coach Neil Emblen.

Neil Emblen will retain his role as All Whites assistant coach but will be in club coaching limbo after the Olympic Games.

Emblen, a former English premier league defender, has made a big impression as coach of the New Zealand Oly-Whites, who picked up their point of the London 2012 football campaign yesterday in a 1-1 draw with Egypt in Manchester.

Ryan Nelsen, the All Whites captain who is leading the Olympic team, has praised Emblen's preparation and work on analysing opposition teams.

Emblen confirmed yesterday he will continue to be part of the All Whites coaching set-up after being involved for 10 of their last 11 matches.

He said national coach Ricki Herbert, who is at the Olympics as a technical adviser, "has said he's happy with my work and that I can aid him whenever I'm needed."

But Emblen may be about to part company with his Waitakere United club after coaching them to three consecutive national league titles.

Waitakere club officials have told Emblen they want a fulltime coach next season and do not want anyone committed to international coaching.

"I still want to be Waitakere coach,'' Emblen said.  But he has been told "the only way they'll keep me on as a fulltime employee, which I've been for the last five years, is if I was to not do international football.''

But the 41-year-old can't see why he can't continue in both roles.

"If Ricki can do both jobs [coaching the All Whites and the Wellington Phoenix], then I feel I can.  We've been successful [at Waitakere].

"I just don't think I can give up this sort of thing. I'm in the press room here [at Old Trafford] and today we played top opposition at a great stadium.

"This is what everybody dreams of doing. I love being Waitakere coach, and I'm really proud of being there these last three seasons.

"Asking to choose is a difficult thing, but I may not get the chance to do international stuff if I walk away from it now, but I do feel I could coach in the [New Zealand] national league again.''

Emblen told Waitakere if they wanted a fulltime coach, he "wasn't the one''.  He said the club came back to him and offered a part-time role.

"But I need a fulltime job. Just at the moment, there's a bit of a stalemate. If the club genuinely feels [their coach] has to concentrate [solely] on the club then, at this stage, I'm not the right person.''

Emblen has spoken to club chairman Peter Bult, long-time stalwart Rex Dawkins "and a couple of board members''. 

"We've all shaken hands and, at this stage, they're looking for a coach and I'm looking for a job.''

The former Millwall, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Norwich City and Crystal Palace player, who immigrated to Auckland to play for the New Zealand Knights in 2005, said with the Olympic campaign drawing to a close his only national coaching involvement would be with the All Whites.

The All Whites will play home-and-away World Cup qualifying matches against Oceania rivals Tahiti, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands in September, October and March.

Emblen said he did not think he would miss any national league premiership games while on All Whites duty.

Fairfax Media