Photo Credit: Tullio Puglia – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Defending champions New Zealand have gone with a mix of youth and experience in their OFC Men’s Nations Cup 2024 squad, as Darren Bazeley’s side look to win a record-extending 6th championship.

With the 2020 edition having been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New Zealand’s success in 2016 represents the last time the OFC Men’s Nations Cup was held, when the Kiwis overcame Papua New Guinea on penalties in Port Moresby to lift the trophy.

Bazeley has selected a squad of 21, including ten U-23 players – perhaps with an eye towards preparation for the Summer Olympics in Paris in July.

There’s room for six uncapped players in the squad named this week, including new Auckland FC signing Jesse Randall, Wellington Phoenix quartet Fin Conchie, Lukas Kelly-Heald, Sam Sutton and Oskar van Hattum and newly signed AFC Bournemouth goalkeeper Alex Paulsen.

For Conchie, Sutton, van Hattum and Randall, this is the first time they have been selected for the national team at senior level.

The timing of the tournament and with many New Zealand talents based in Europe, has meant that Head Coach Darren Bazeley has been presented with a slight challenge in finalising the squad.

“It’s come at the end of European leagues for some players and mid-league for other players, which has made it a little bit difficult.

“We’ve finalised the squad and, going well, we can now have a strong All Whites squad with a lot of experience, but also we can blend in some younger players that will give them a chance to push their names forward for Olympic selection as well,” Bazeley said.

Finn Surman captained New Zealand at the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina and will be looking to add to this single cap for the senior side this month. (Photo by Marcelo Endelli – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images).

For the uncapped players, the opportunity to make their international bow in a tournament environment, as opposed to an international friendly, is something that Bazeley feels could be a positive experience for those younger players.

“Part of the reason why the Nations Cup is so important is that it’s tournament competition games,” he said.

“Those players are going to have a great experience. You know, all of them have played in Oceania tournaments at different age groups, whether that’s U-23, U-20 or U-17, so they’re not coming in having never played in the islands,” Bazeley continued.

Four of the New Zealand squad will play their club football on home soil next season for the newly formed Auckland FC in the Australian A-League. A development that Bazeley sees as another huge boost to the development of the game in Aotearoa.

“Auckland coming into the A-League is massive for New Zealand. You know, it means we’ve now got two professional pathways for younger players, but also for experienced players like Tommy Smith and Cam Howieson that are, you know, a little bit older than some of the others.

“I think it’s a great vehicle for professional football in this country.”

With New Caledonia’s withdrawal from the competition, it leaves New Zealand with just two group stage matches, kicking off against Solomon Islands on Tuesday, June 18th before their second fixture against co-hosts Vanuatu on Friday, June 21st. Both matches will be played at VFF Freshwater Stadium in Port Vila.

New Zealand squad for the OFC Men’s Nations Cup 2024


Max Crocombe
Alex Paulsen
Oli Sail


Lukas Kelly-Heald
Finn Surman
Tommy Smith
Tyler Bindon
Liberato Cacace
Sam Sutton
Tim Payne


Alex Rufer
Ben Old
Cam Howieson
Fin Conchie
Eli Just


Kosta Barbarouses
Max Mata
Alex Grieve
Jesse Randall
Ben Waine
Oskar van Hattum