Sweden will provide benchmark for All Whites’ long-term progress — Bazeley

posted in: All Whites, News

The All Whites’ performance against Sweden on Saturday is an important step in the team’s long-term plan to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, says interim head coach Darren Bazeley.

Bazeley says playing a team ranked #22 in the FIFA world rankings will provide a useful benchmark for New Zealand’s progress.

“This is going to be a real test for us. We feel like this is a good opportunity — like a checkpoint — to see where we are, how far we’ve come (and) how much work we still need to do to be able to compete at this level,” he told a media briefing ahead of the international friendly.

Main photo: Darren Bazeley … ‘You’ve got to look at the bigger picture.’

Bazeley said the short-term nature of his interim role had not swayed him from taking a long-term approach to the All Whites’ plan.

“I can’t come into an environment like this and try to get a short-term gain, a short-term result to try to get a job.

“You’ve got to go into it looking at the bigger picture for the players — this is their squad; it’s not my squad or the staff’s squad. It’s the players’ team. We work together to try to make it the best we can.

“The best way for that is to look ahead, to bring someone like Finn Surman in, to give him an opportunity.

“While that’s a long-term view, for me, it’s just the right thing to do.”

Darren Bazeley (left) and Joe Bell address the media ahead of the Sweden game.

Captain Joe Bell said he thought that approach showed a lot of courage from Bazeley.

“We could go out … and try grind out a result, in the hopes that it looks good in the media, but the recognition that what we’re trying to work on is long term, and that’s going to be the best for the players’ group, and (it) shows a lot of courage from all the staff involved.”

Asked about the coaching situation, Bell said: “As players, we do our best to just focus on the game.

“We recognise the situation but we’re focussed on performing.

“I don’t think it’s something we’re too stressed about, or frustrated about; we’re just focused on working towards our end goal, which is 2026.”

Bazeley said his commitments with the national U-20 men’s squad and the All Whites had meant there had been little chance for conversations over the national team role, and his future.

Bazeley: ‘It shouldn’t be a quick process — it’s a big decision’

He said he’d spent only about five days in New Zealand over the past five weeks.

“After this window, we’ll have some conversations (and) see where the process is at.

“It shouldn’t be a quick process. It’s such a big decision for the team

“I’m comfortable that it’s taken a bit of time, and they’re looking at everything before they make the big decision.”

Watch the briefing in full

The 18-minute media briefing is available here:


Game to be played on Saturday June 17, 2023

Sweden v New Zealand
Friends Arena, Soina, Stockholm, 5am (NZT)

How to watch

The game will be broadcast live on Sky Sport 2 in New Zealand or you can watch it live on free-to-air Prime TV. Both broadcasts start at 4.50am (NZT).

The All Whites at their training session in Stockholm. Photo credit: NZ Football.



Viktor Johansson (0 caps), (Rotherham United, England)
Kristoffer Nordfeldt (16 caps), (AIK Football AB, Sweden)
Robin Olsen (65 caps), (Aston Villa, England)

Hjalmar Ekdal (5 caps), (Burnley, England)
Gabriel Gudmundsson (4 caps), (LOSC Lille, France)
Isak Hien (5 caps), (Hellas Verona, Italy)
Edvin Kurtulus (3 caps), (Hammarby Football AB, Sweden)
Victor Nilsson Lindelöf (58 caps), (Manchester United, England)
Martin Olsson (55 caps), (Malmō, Sweden)
Ken Sema (14 caps), (Watford, England)
Carl Starfelt (5 caps), (Celtic, Scotland)
Daniel Sundgren (2 caps), (Maccabi Haifa, Israel)
Linus Wahlqvist Egnell (8 caps), (Pogon Szczecin SA, Poland)

Midfielders and forwards
Jens-Lys Cajuste (14 caps), (Stade de Reims, France)
Viktor Claesson (67 caps), (FC Copenhagen, Denmark)
Albin Ekdal (66 caps), (Spezia Calcio, Italy)
Anthony Elanga 10 caps), (Manchester United, England)
Emil Forsberg (80 caps), (RB Leipzig, Germany)
Samuel Gustafson (6 caps), (BK Häcken, Sweden)
Viktor Gyökeres (13 caps), (Coventry City, England)
Alexander Isak (39 caps), (Newcastle United, England)
Jesper Karlsson (9 caps), (AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands)
Jesper Karlström (11 caps), (KKS Lech Poznan, Poland)
Dejan Kulusevski (29 caps), (Tottenham Hotspur, England)
Hugo Larsson (1 caps), (Malmō, Sweden)
Kristoffer Olsson (44 caps), (FC Midtjylland, Denmark)
Robin Quaison (46 caps), (Al-Ettifaq, Saudi Arabia)
Marcus Rohdén (17 caps), (Frosinone Calcio, Italy)
Mattias Svanberg (27 caps), (VfL Wolfsburg, Germany)

Head coach
Janne Andersson

New Zealand

Max Crocombe (2 caps) Grimsby Town (till June 30), England
Oli Sail (8 caps) Perth Glory, Australia
Nik Tzanev (1 cap) AFC Wimbledon, England

Michael Boxall (42 caps) Minnesota United, USA
Liberato Cacace (14 caps) Empoli FC, Italy
Francis De Vries (6 caps) Eastern Suburbs, New Zealand
Callan Elliot (2 caps) unattached, New Zealand
Tim Payne (32 caps) Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
Nando Pijnaker (11 caps) Sligo Rovers, Ireland
Tommy Smith (50 caps) Colchester United, England
Finn Surman* (0 caps) Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
Bill Tuiloma (36 caps) Charlotte FC, USA

Joe Bell (13 caps) Brondby FC, Denmark
Matthew Garbett (14 caps) NAC Breda, Netherlands
Clayton Lewis (23 caps) Macarthur FC, Australia
Callum McCowatt (11 caps) FC Helsingor, Denmark
Marco Rojas (44 caps) Colo Colo, Chile
Alex Rufer (8 caps) Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
Marko Stamenic (13 caps) FC Copenhagen, Denmark

Alex Greive (9 caps) St Mirren, Scotland
Eli Just (15 caps) AC Horsens, Denmark
Max Mata (3 caps) Sligo Rovers, Ireland
Ben Waine (7 caps) Plymouth Argyle, England

Head coach
Darren Bazeley

The Swedish squad at their training camp. Photo credit: Sweden FA.

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