New Zealand withdraw from friendly against England over ‘complications’ caused by coronavirus


New Zealand have withdrawn from their scheduled friendly against England at Wembley Stadium next month.

A statement released by New Zealand Football (NZF) on Wednesday said that the withdrawal from the 12 November fixture was due to “travel and player availability complications caused by Covid-19”.

NZF CEO Andrew Pragnell said: “It is not an action taken lightly, this is a match we all wanted to play, however, 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.

“The shifting nature of travel restrictions and commercial flight availability under Covid means that we do not have certainty we could assemble a squad at Wembley on this day and defaulting on this fixture at the last minute is not an option.”

England, who take on Denmark in the Nations League on Wednesday evening, confirmed the news shortly after New Zealand’s announcement.

All Whites head coach Danny Hay said: “I’m gutted, and I know the players will also be, but this is one of those situations we can’t do anything about.

“We all want to be playing more games, but 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 are set to announce replacement opposition in due course.

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