Big guns return for All Whites

Publish Date
Thursday, 9 March 2023, 12:03PM

By Michael Burgess

The All Whites will feature most of their big names for the upcoming series with China — though the wait continues to see Sarpreet Singh and Ryan Thomas back in the silver fern.

Interim coach Darren Bazeley unveiled his squad on Thursday for the matches in Auckland (March 23) and Wellington (March 26), with 16 players returning from the games with the Socceroos last September.

Chris Wood, Liberato Cacace, Joe Bell, Matt Garbett, Marko Stamenic and Michael Boxall are among many familiar faces.

Marco Rojas also returns — after missing the Australian series to focus on his club ambitions at Colo Colo — while there are recalls for Wellington Phoenix captain Alex Rufer and young striker Max Mata and a first call up for Phoenix fullback Callan Elliott.

However Singh and Thomas will miss the series.

Singh hasn’t played for the All Whites since January last year — due to a problematic groin injury — while Thomas hasn’t featured since the Danny Hay’s first window in November 2019, after an awful run with injuries along with some personal issues.

Bazeley is hopeful both players will be in contention to return in June, for the matches against Sweden in Stockholm and another game in Europe against a yet to be confirmed opponent.

Bill Tuiloma and Ben Waine have been left out for this series, after discussion with Bazeley, due to club commitments.

Waine is trying to nail down a spot at new club Plymouth Argyle, who have a league game during the international window and are chasing promotion. He is in contention to be involved in the EFL Trophy Final at Wembley Stadium against Bolton Wanderers on April 3.

Tuiloma has recently completed a move to MLS side Charlotte FC and will stay with his new team for this window.

“Both Ben Waine and Bill Tuiloma were disappointed not to be able to take part in this window but from discussions with them both I’m happy that it is the right decision for their individual club careers, and they have both committed to future international windows,” said Bazeley.

Two senior goalkeepers have been selected (Oli Sail and Stefan Marinovic) and a third will join the matchday squad from the under-22 side for each All Whites game.

“This series gives us the opportunity to start the new World Cup cycle off and get our home fans excited about what is to come for this squad,” said Bazeley. “Congratulations to Callan Elliot on his debut call up after a great season with the Phoenix. He is a player I know well from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic campaign so it will be great to see him in the full All Whites environment.

“I’m also pleased to bring Max Mata and Alex Rufer back. Max is a player in form over in Ireland, having recently scored a league hat trick, and Alex has obviously now fully recovered after a long time out with injury and is in good form with the Phoenix.”

All Whites squad
Kyle Adams (0 caps) - San Diego Loyal, USA

Kosta Barbarouses (52 caps) - Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand

Joe Bell (12 caps) - Brøndby IF, Denmark

Michael Boxall (40 caps) - Minnesota United, USA

Liberato Cacace (12 caps) - Empoli, Italy

Callan Elliot* (0 caps) - Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand

Matthew Garbett (12 caps) - NAC Breda, Netherlands (on loan from Torino)

Alex Greive (7 caps) - St Mirren, Scotland

Cam Howieson (16 caps) - Auckland City FC, New Zealand

Dane Ingham (12 caps) - Newcastle Jets, Australia

Eli Just (13 caps) - AC Horsens, Denmark

Clayton Lewis (21 caps) - Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand

Stefan Marinovic (30 caps) - Unattached

Max Mata (1 cap) - Sligo Rovers, Ireland

Callum McCowatt (10 caps) - FC Helsingør, Denmark

Tim Payne (30 caps) - Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand

Nando Pijnaker (11 caps) - Sligo Rovers, Ireland

Marco Rojas (43 caps) - Colo-Colo, Chile

Alex Rufer (7 caps) - Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand

Oli Sail (6 caps) - Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand

Tommy Smith (49 caps) - Colchester United, England

Marko Stamenic (11 caps) - FC Copenhagen, Denmark

Chris Wood (70 caps) - Nottingham Forest, England

Deklan Wynne (15 caps) - Charleston Battery, USA

Thursday 23 March 2023

Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland

3:30pm: New Zealand U-22 v China

7pm: All Whites v China

Sunday 26 March 2023

Sky Stadium, Wellington

12:30pm: New Zealand U-22 v China

4pm: All Whites v China

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission

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