Darren Bazeley named New Zealand head coach

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Darren Bazeley has been appointed as the coach for New Zealand until the 2026 World Cup, according to New Zealand Football. 

Bazeley, who has been leading the team on an interim basis since March, will also take on the role of under-23 coach and will aim to guide the squad through the qualification process for the Paris Olympics next year.

According to reports from New Zealand media, Bazeley was appointed after NZF was unable to secure their preferred candidate, John Herdman, who decided to continue coaching Canada in February.

“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,” NZF boss Andrew Pragnell said in a statement.

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“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.”

Bazeley took over as interim head coach after Danny Hay departed following New Zealand’s failure to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar last year. Under Bazeley’s guidance, the team has achieved a victory and a draw against China, as well as a loss to Sweden. 

During a recent friendly match against Qatar, the game was abandoned at halftime when Bazeley’s players refused to continue playing due to alleged racism on the field. 

Bazeley’s upcoming tasks include Olympic qualifiers in August, followed by All Whites matches in the FIFA windows of October and November. With the Oceania region guaranteed a spot in the expanded 48-team World Cup in North America in 2026, it is likely that New Zealand will qualify for their first World Cup since 2010.

“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,” Bazeley said.

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