Four new faces called into All Whites for OFC Nations Cup tournament

Four new caps have been named in the 21-player New Zealand squad to compete at the OFC Nations Cup in Fiji and Vanuatu.

They are the Wellington Phoenix trio of Fin Conchie, Sam Sutton and Oskar van Hattum, and Auckland FC’s new signing, Jesse Randall.

Also in the squad is goalkeeper Alex Paulsen — subject of a record transfer from the Phoenix to English Premier League club Bournemouth — who has been called up before but is yet to play for New Zealand.

The tournament starts on June 15, 2024.

New Zealand will play Vanuatu and Solomon Islands in Group A, after the withdrawal of New Caledonia.

READ MORE: Civil unrest forces New Caledonia to pull out of OFC Nations Cup tournament >>>>

For the first time, players have been selected from both Aotearoa New Zealand’s professional A-League Men sides, with four called up from the newly-formed Auckland FC and 10 who took part in Wellington Phoenix’s hugely successful 2023/2024 season.

Fourteen players return from the last All Whites squad selected to face Egypt and Tunisia in March 2024.

With an eye on July’s Summer Olympics, head coach Darren Bazeley has called up 10 U-23 players who are eligible for Paris 2024, including the four debutants.

The new faces

Fin Conchie.
Sam Sutton.
Oskar van Hattum.
Jesse Randall.

New Zealand squad


Kosta Barbarouses (52 caps) Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
Tyler Bindon (6 caps) Reading FC, England
Liberato Cacace (22 caps) Empoli, Italy
Fin Conchie (0 caps) Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand*
Max Crocombe (6 caps) Burton Albion, England
Alex Greive (11 caps) Dundee United, Scotland
Cam Howieson (16 caps) Auckland FC / Auckland City FC, New Zealand
Eli Just (22 caps) AC Horsens, Denmark
Lukas Kelly-Heald (0 caps) Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
Max Mata (10 caps) Auckland FC, New Zealand
Ben Old (4 caps) Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
Alex Paulsen (0 caps) AFC Bournemouth, England
Tim Payne (34 caps) Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
Jesse Randall (0 caps) Auckland FC / Wellington Olympic AFC, New Zealand*
Alex Rufer (9 caps) Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
Oli Sail (9 caps) Perth Glory, Australia
Tommy Smith (52 caps) Auckland FC, New Zealand
Finn Surman (1 cap) Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
Sam Sutton (0 caps) Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand*
Ben Waine (13 caps) Plymouth Argyle, England
Oskar van Hattum (0 caps) Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand*

*Debut call up

The players missing from the squad

The most notable absentee is captain Chris Wood who was unavailable for selection as he is getting married in Italy.

READ MORE: All Whites skipper Chris Wood to miss Nations Cup games due to wedding >>>>

Auckland FC defender Tommy Smith will be best man at Wood’s wedding but is available to join the national squad for the latter stages of the tournament.

Sligo Rovers defender Nando Pijnaker is unavailable due to injury (broken ribs), while midfielder Clayton Lewis faces charges in court and can not leave Australia while on bail.

Other players who were part of recent squads but who are not in the Nations Cup squad include Joe Bell, Callum McCowatt, Matt Garbett, Sarpreet Singh, Marko Stamenić and Michael Boxall.

Darren Bazeley … ‘This is a strong All Whites squad.’

Head coach Darren Bazeley highlighted the importance of the tournament to his side this year and the opportunities it provides for players to test themselves at international level.

“This tournament is a really important competition for us and forms part of a big year starting with the OFC Nations Cup, followed by the Olympics and the start of FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers,” he said.

“The timing of this Nations Cup has made it quite difficult to select this final squad.

“Over the last month, I have spoken to all of the players around their personal situations, with some of our potential players still mid-season, some coming off the back of long European seasons, and some in various personal or contract situations.

“With the Olympics also being so close to the Nations Cup, with them being pretty much back-to-back tournaments, we have had to take that into consideration as well, managing player club and country commitments.

“This is a strong All Whites squad, with a large number of young U-23 players who will be part of the Olympic campaign, so having this time together is a real benefit leading into Paris 2024.

“We now regularly monitor over 60 professional players who are all in the All Whites mix, showing the strength in depth we are building, so for this Nations Cup squad we have delved into our depth and it is an opportunity for players to push themselves forward and stake a claim for regular selection.

“It is really exciting to see some of our younger players receive their first call up, it is a great opportunity for them to taste senior international football.

“What we need is to be playing as many games as possible which is why this competition, with challenging international games in quick succession, is great for our development.”

The All Whites enter the tournament as the defending champions after lifting the trophy in 2016 and the 2020 edition being cancelled due to COVID-19.

New Zealand has been drawn in Group A at the tournament alongside New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and co-hosts Vanuatu, and will play all group games at VFF Freshwater Stadium in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

New Zealand’s record

The All Whites won the cup when the last tournament was held in 2016.

It was the fifth time New Zealand had taken the OFC title, with previous wins in 1973, 1998, 2002 and 2006.

New Zealand were to host the tournament in 2020 but it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Zealand’s fixtures (revised)

Game to be played on Tuesday June 18, 2024

New Zealand v Solomon Islands
VFF Fresh Water Stadium, Port Vila, 4pm (NZT)

Game to be played on Friday June 21, 2024, 2024

New Zealand v Vanuatu
VFF Fresh Water Stadium, Port Vila, 4pm (NZT)

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