Former Phoenix and national age group coach Buckingham on way to Wembley

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Former New Zealand U-23 men’s coach Des Buckingham is relishing the chance to lead his club side to glory at England’s Wembley Stadium.

Buckingham (39) is head coach of English League One club Oxford United who’ll go to the national stadium on Sunday May 19 (NZT) to face Bolton Wanderers in a sudden death play-off final, with the winner promoted to the English Championship.

“We will do everything we can to try and put ourselves in a position to come away from Wembley (with the win) and finish the season as well as we can,” he promised supporters after Oxford beat Peterborough in a two-legged semi-final.

Also going to Wembley as part of Oxford’s coaching staff will be former NZ Football analyst Joe Moore, who joined Buckingham’s staff in early 2024.

READ MORE: Former NZ Football analyst joins Des Buckingham at EFL club Oxford United >>>>

Joe Moore … will head to Wembley with Des Buckingham.

The play-off finalist clubs have been allocated 36,500 tickets each for the Wembley showdown and Buckingham is confident the 90,000 Wembley Stadium will be sold out.

“We will fill Wembley, I have no doubt,” he said. “We always do. This fan group, I can’t quite describe it.

“In the last two or three months, the togetherness on and off the pitch with the fans has been massive and I think we would have been able to sell a lot more tickets tonight if we had the chance.

“I can’t wait to see the atmosphere they create at Wembley.

“We will do our best now to make it a strong finish and really happy ending to the season for everyone.”

Buckingham has been part of a stunning turnaround at Oxford United who avoided relegation to League Two by two points in 2022-23.

In the latest season, they started well under boss Liam Manning, winning nine of their first 11 fixtures, but Manning was headhunted by Championship club Bristol City.

In November 2023, Oxford recruited Buckingham from Indian Super League club Mumbai City on a long-term contract.

Between January and March, Oxford won only twice in 12 games but Buckingham led a turnaround of form, and qualified for the promotion play-offs.

Mumbai City fans show their support for head coach Des Buckingham when he led the club to the Indian Super League title.

Buckingham’s football journey

Buckingham began his coaching career at his hometown club of Oxford United when he was 18.

He was brought to New Zealand in 2014 by WaiBOP Football as a Football Development Officer but soon moved to Wellington where he began roles with the Wellington Phoenix.

Buckingham became an assistant coach at Melbourne City in 2020, after leaving New Zealand where he had combined Phoenix roles and coaching New Zealand’s national U-20 and U-23 squads.

In 2022, Buckingham was reportedly one of the candidates short-listed for the All Whites head coaching role after the departure of Danny Hay.

Buckingham ruled himself out of contention, saying he had signed a two-year contract extension with Mumbai City, part of the global City Football Group that has ownership stakes in 12 clubs, including English Premier League champions Manchester City and A-League club Melbourne City.

During his time with Mumbai City, the club won the 2023 ISL title, and in May, Buckingham was voted Coach of the Year by the Indian Players’ Football Association.

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