The five big things New Zealand football fans need to follow in 2024

By Harrison Ryburn

Another huge year beckons for football in New Zealand in 2024, fresh off record-breaking crowds and football fever that gripped the nation during the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

As Kiwis return from their summer by the beach, a feast of footballing action lies on the horizon.

Here are five things football fans should get excited about in 2024 …

Football club investor Bill Foley … his team will hit the ground running in 2024.

Auckland’s new A-League team

A new era of A-League football in Auckland is set to be launched in 2024, with American billionaire Bill Foley throwing his money behind a second professional football team in the City of Sails.

Football fans in the region will hope it isn’t a repeat of the now-defunct New Zealand Knights club, who managed only six wins across two seasons in the A-League between 2005-2007.

The early signs are good with the financial backing of Foley, who also owns Premier League club Bournemouth, Ligue 1 side Lorient FC, and NHL franchise Vegas Golden Knights.

The new Auckland A-League club is yet to reveal its name, but will be coached by former Socceroo and Sydney FC coach Steve Corica, and has announced Terry McFlynn as Director of Football.

How Corica shapes his roster is of great interest, with the new club offering a great opportunity and pathway for more local players to develop in a professional environment.

It is hoped a marquee signing (or a couple) will also be on the agenda, with Foley recently mentioning Auckland as a place for developing Bournemouth and Premier League talent too.

Its entry into the A-League for the 2024/25 season will also provide local competition to the Wellington Phoenix, both in the transfer market, and on the pitch, with the first-ever match between two professional New Zealand football clubs to mark a major milestone for the development of the sport in the country.

An announcement is expected soon on the club’s name and its first squad signings, all of which will stir the growing anticipation for Aucklanders.

READ MORE: Bill Foley’s open letter to northern clubs: ‘This is just the start …’ >>>>

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Paris will host the 2024 Summer Olympics. Photo by Anthony Tan on Unsplash

2024 Paris Olympic Games

The Olywhites — New Zealand’s U-23 men’s national football team — are set to compete in the men’s football tournament at the Olympic Games in Paris in July/August, whilst the Football Ferns are heavy favorites to qualify through as the Oceania representative for the women’s edition.

Much interest will centre on the performances of both sides, particularly the Ferns as they come under an increasing spotlight after last year’s World Cup.

They’ll need to get through February’s OFC Olympic Qualifying tournament in Samoa first, but should they qualify, will be eager to make up for their disappointing World Cup group stage exit on home soil.

Meanwhile, the Olywhites are set to be made up of a strong All Whites contingent, with as many as six full internationals, three over-age players, and another four players under the age of 23 featuring in squads over the past four years.

They were quarter-finalists under Danny Hay at the last edition in 2022, and a number of that side now make up the core of the full international side.

The 2024 games will serve as a chance for the next wave of All Whites to make their mark, and perhaps even put themselves in the frame for the World Cup qualifiers at the end of the year.

READ MORE: New Zealand qualify for Paris Olympics with big win in qualifier final >>>>

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New Zealand’s Futsal Whites … going to their first World Cup. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Futsal Whites at the World Cup

New Zealand will be represented on futsal’s world stage for the first time in 2024, with the Futsal Whites set to compete at the Futsal World Cup in Uzbekistan in September.

The heroics of head coach Marvin Eakins’ side attracted national media attention when they claimed back-to-back OFC Futsal Nations Cup in October last year, sealing qualification for a first Futsal World Cup in front of a capacity crowd at Auckland’s Pulman Park.

Playing against the world’s best in Uzbekistan will be another big step-up, but just being at the tournament is a huge milestone for futsal in the country.

It comes at a time when futsal is growing here and worldwide, with FIFA announcing the establishment of a first Futsal Women’s World Cup for 2025.

That will allow the Futsal Ferns to attempt to replicate the success of their male counterparts, who participated in their first full international in four years in 2023, and will be looking for more in 2024 as they build towards a future qualifying event.

READ MORE: Futsal Whites heading to FIFA Futsal World Cup for first time after beating Tahiti >>>>

Fans got behind the All Whites the last time they played at Auckland’s Eden Park for the centenary game against Australia in 2022. Photo: Andrew Cornaga / Phototek.

Home games for the All Whites

The All Whites are set to return home again in 2024, with three World Cup qualifiers scheduled and a friendly in the works for October and November.

Should all four fixtures eventuate, it would be the most games the All Whites have played at home in a single year since hosting the 2002 OFC Nations Cup.

With confirmation of a guaranteed spot at the 2026 World Cup for an OFC representative, the qualifying campaign will come under added spotlight as the All Whites look to seal their qualification without the need for an intercontinental play-off.

The qualifiers will come at the end of an exciting year for the team, who are also set to participate in the W Cup tournament in the UAE against two of Croatia, Egypt, and Tunisia, with many players also expected to take part in the Olywhites Olympic campaign.

READ MORE: Our latest All Whites stories >>>>

READ MORE: All Whites to play two games at UAE tournament in March international window >>>>

New Zealand qualified for the 2024 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup by winning last year’s OFC U-19 Championship in Fiji.

U-17 and U-20 Women’s World Cups

It’s also a big year for the women’s age group sides, with the U-17’s scheduled to participate in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in the Dominican Republic in October, and the U-20’s to take part in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Colombia in August.

Both teams are set to shine a light on the next generation of young female talent and future Football Ferns, magnified now by the prospect of professional pathways in New Zealand with the Phoenix and a future Auckland team.

Young stars like Milly Clegg, Macey Fraser, and Grace Wisnewski are all players who have recently come through the age-group sides and excelled, and more big opportunities await those who impress in 2024.

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Harrison Ryburn

Harrison Ryburn is a Canterbury-based football writer.

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