New Zealand forward Max Mata says he’s itching to “put on the fern again” as October’s friendly internationals against DR Congo and Australia get near.
“I’ve always said that it’s the most precious part about being a professional footballer, getting to represent your country, no matter where you’re from,” Mata (23) said.
Mata joined English League One club Shrewsbury Town from Ireland’s Sligo Rovers this year, having to overcome work visa issues and a calf injury before he could start playing for them.
Main photo: Max Mata … looking forward to October’s All Whites games.
Of the delays, Mata told Shrewsbury Town’s media team:
“That was a difficult time period as it came, and I think the club did quite well to get it done when they did.
“The positives I took from it were that I had a little bit of time to settle in with the team, with the coaches, the new style of play and everything. It was a little more comfortable for me to make the transition from training to the games.”
After settling in with the club, Mata will join up with the All Whites for games against DR Congo in Spain, and Australia’s Socceroos in London.
The Socceroos game will be for the historic Soccer Ashes Trophy.
“It’s a rivalry so even when they’re friendlies, there’s always a little bit of something behind it.
“It’s nice that even though it is a friendly, it’s going to be treated like it’s a World Cup match,” Mata said.
“It used to be that the national team only really came together every couple of years for the World Cup qualifiers but now it’s common to be in most windows and playing football together.
“That’s only going to be beneficial to us in the long run. We have a young squad so there are a lot of players in and around the squad that will be around for many years to come.”
Watch Max Mata’s interview
Game to be played on Saturday October 14, 2023 (NZT)
New Zealand v DR Congo
Estadio Nueva Condomina, Murcia, Spain, 5am (NZT)
Game to be played on Wednesday October 18, 2023 (NZT)
New Zealand v Australia
Gtech Community Stadium, London, 7.45am (NZT)
Game to be played on Saturday November 18, 2023 (NZT)
Greece v New Zealand
OPAP Arena, Athens, Greece, 6am TBC (NZT)
Game to be played on Wednesday November 22, 2023 (NZT)
Ireland v New Zealand
Aviva Stadium, Dublin, 8.45am (NZT)