New Zealand have cancelled their international friendly against England next month due Coronavirus related travel restrictions.
Originally scheduled for 12 November 2020, New Zealand have since decided to cancel with “deep regret” due to “shifting nature of travel restrictions and commercial flight availability” as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
New Zealand Football CEO, Andrew Pragnell issued a statement on the announcement explaining the rational behind the decision, saying; “… 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.”
Pragnell went on to note that the flexible movement of travel restriction rules mixed with commercial flight availability added to the uncertainty in assembling a squad for the match, making early cancellation their best option.
This however isn’t the first time that New Zealand had to cancel a friendly since the Coronavirus pandemic broke out, having cancelled matches against Oman and Bahrain in March then Belgium of who replaced their clash with a match against Ivory Coast which finished 1-1 draw.
Pragnell however is now focusing ahead to the first international window of 2021 in March, as the All Whites begin their FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign, off the back of having played no matches in 2020.
New Zealand Head Coach, Danny Hay issued a short statement expressing his disappointment in the match cancellation, saying; “I’m gutted, and I know the players will also be, but this is one of those situations we can’t do anything about.”
Hay admitted that when planning for recent fixtures, he knew “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.”
On potential of having to face an England team with a weak squad prior to the match’s cancellation, Hay said; “…. 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.”
England responded with a short Twitter statement confirming New Zealand’s cancellation of their friendly and announced that a ‘replacement opposition’ will be announced at a later date.
— England (@England) October 14, 2020