Former Ferns coach Andreas Heraf takes on relegation battle with Austrian club

Former Football Ferns coach Andreas Heraf has switched clubs in a bid to save SC Austria Lustenau from relegation from the Austrian Bundesliga.

Heraf (56) belives he can rescue his new club, despite being bottom of the 12-team table after 17 rounds, and eight points behind their nearest rivals.

“The boys are on fire, we’re on a very good path,” he told a media briefing after his move from Austrian club Schwarz-Weiß Bregenz, with whom he won promotion last season.

“Actually, nobody gives us a chance, and that’s exactly the appeal, to prove that it’s possible,” he said.

Austria Lustenau resume their league programme on Monday February 12, 2024, after the competition’s midwinter break, with a match against second-bottom WSG Tirol.

Main photo: Former Ferns coach Andreas Heraf. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Austria Lustenau’s sports coordinator Alexander Schneider told the club’s website: “Andi has proven several times that he can quickly stabilize teams even in difficult situations and lead to good results with pragmatic football.

“In our conversations, it was immediately apparent that he had a clear plan and precise ideas about how we could achieve our common goal despite the difficult starting position.

“It will now be important that we carry this belief and mentality into the club over the next few weeks and months and that each individual subordinates everything to the goal of staying in the league.”

Heraf said: “I’m really looking forward to the new challenge. For me, it is a return after almost 20 years to a club that I have always valued very much and have continued to follow closely throughout all this time.

“Even if it seems a big challenge when looking at the table, we have relegation in our own hands and I am 100% convinced that we will achieve this goal by the end of the season.“

Heraf’s challenges since leaving New Zealand

Heraf has been through a turbulent time since his return to Europe in 2018 after a short stint in New Zealand where he had coached the Football Ferns until his resignation after complaints against him.

Heraf was appointed manager at third division Türkgücü München in December 2021, but the club was declared insolvent, leaving a trail of debt and unpaid staff and players.

He was forced to register as unemployed.

In early 2023, the ethics committee of the Austrian Bundesliga began an investigation into allegations against the president of Austria’s national football body, Gerhard Milletich. The allegations included the nature of Heraf’s employment at a club run by Milletich in 2007.

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Heraf re-ignited his coaching career with the promotion-winning campaign at Schwarz-Weiß Bregenz in 2023.

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