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All Whites withdraw from England fixture

All Whites striker Chris Wood controls the ball. Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek

New Zealand Football have confirmed they are withdrawing from their All Whites fixture against England on November 13 NZT due to further travel and player availability complications caused by COVID-19.

New Zealand Football CEO Andrew Pragnell said it was a challenging situation.

“It is with deep regret that we have been forced to cancel our participation in the upcoming match against England at Wembley,” he said.

“It is not an action taken lightly, this is a match we all wanted to play, however, as it stands of the last All Whites squad selected for the November 2019 tour, even excluding the New Zealand based players, a significant number of the team would be subject to quarantine or restrictions on their return home. This would heavily disrupt their domestic seasons and potentially jeopardise their professional careers.

“The shifting nature of travel restrictions and commercial flight availability under COVID means that we do not have certainty we could assemble a squad at Wembley on this day and defaulting on this fixture at the last minute is not an option.

“Prior to COVID we had a full calendar of fixtures planned for the All Whites, and we have been proactive in seeking out matches for the team since the disruption, but unfortunately it just isn’t possible to make the new games we have scheduled this year happen.

“We are now looking forward to the March 2021 international window as we begin our qualifying campaign for the FIFA World Cup 2022.”

All Whites head coach Danny Hay said it was disappointing.

“I’m gutted, and I know the players will also be, but this is one of those situations we can’t do anything about,” he said.

“We always knew when planning for these fixtures that certain players would be unavailable but looking at the restrictions currently in place, as well as the rising number of COVID-19 cases across Europe, it just isn’t possible to put a competitive squad together.

“We all want to be playing more games but coming up against one of the top sides in the world with a heavily understrength team doesn’t do anything to help our long-term development.”

Courtesy of New Zealand Football

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