- Publish Date
- Tuesday, 4 July 2023, 5:29PM
New Zealand Football has confirmed the appointment of Darren Bazeley as All Whites head coach.
Bazeley, who has served as head coach of the senior New Zealand men’s side on an interim basis as well as men’s under-20 head coach, has been given the permanent All Whites head coach role to lead the national team for the Fifa World Cup 2026 cycle and the Under-23 side for the Paris 2024 Olympic campaign.
During his time as interim All Whites head coach, Bazeley has overseen a win and draw against China (ranked 79), defeat against Sweden (ranked 23) and a recent fixture against Qatar (ranked 58), which saw the team leading before the match was abandoned.
At age group level, Bazeley led the men’s Under-20 team to the last 16 at the Fifa U-20 World Cup in 2015, 2017 and most recently again in May 2023, producing consistently strong results at Fifa tournaments.
New Zealand Football CEO Andrew Pragnell said: “This has been an in-depth recruitment process and I’m confident we have the right person to lead the team for the new Fifa World Cup cycle.
“Throughout this process we always looked to prioritise someone who had a connection to the country and in turn the team, could collaborate with the organisation, as well as equally someone who had experience at Fifa tournaments and would enable the team to play a style of football that will empower them to reach their potential,” Pragnell said.
“While the appointment process took longer than initially expected, it allowed us to test Darren in the role, and he proved to all of us he was the right candidate for the job.
“Darren has consistently delivered at age group level, received consistently positive feedback as the All Whites assistant head coach in previous campaigns and has stepped up seamlessly to the senior national team during his time as interim head coach, leading the team to positive results and performances against higher ranked sides.
“The feedback from the playing group, staff and organisation from both international windows has been very positive and proven to us all that the team will be successful under his leadership.
“He is well respected by the playing group and we look forward to seeing where he takes this team, starting next month with the OFC [Oceania Football Confederaton] qualifying campaign for the Paris 2024 Olympics, hosted by New Zealand Football in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.”
Bazeley said: “I’m excited to be named All Whites head coach and can’t wait to officially get started.
“I’m proud of the progress we have made as a team over the last four international matches, which is a result of real collaboration between the coaching team and playing group to play a style of football that everyone wants to see.
“I have known and coached many of the players in this group for a long time so it will be a real privilege to continue on the journey with them to develop football in New Zealand and leave a legacy for the next generation.
“This is a hugely exciting time to be a football fan in New Zealand, with the Fifa Women’s World Cup this year, consistent high-quality international fixtures, and the Olympics and Fifa World Cup, should we qualify, in the next few years.”
Bazeley has coached internationally since 2009, as well as domestically in New Zealand, the A-League and the MLS (Major League Soccer).
He holds the UEFA A Licence and is currently in the process of completing the OFC Pro Licence.
As a player, Bazeley played over 500 professional games over an 18-year career including for Watford FC (283 games), Wolverhampton Wanderers (80) and Walsall FC (100).
His first games as head coach will be the OFC men’s Olympic qualifiers in August, followed by All Whites fixtures in the October and November Fifa windows.
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission
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