The All Whites will kick off their FIFA World Cup 2026 cycle with two home games against China this March.
The team will play the first game at Mt Smart Stadium in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland on Thursday 23 March (KO 7pm) and the second at Sky Stadium in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington on Sunday 26 March (KO 4pm).
The games will be the first All Whites fixtures at Mt Smart since 2014 and the first at Sky Stadium since 2017.
Tickets for both games will go on presale at 10am on Thursday 2 February to New Zealand Football’s Football Whānau members and on general sale at 10am on Friday 3 February. Fans can sign up to join Football Whānau for free at nzfootball.co.nz to get access to the presale.
The side will be led by interim head coach Darren Bazeley. Bazeley will take on the role on an interim basis, in addition to being U-20s head coach, after the leading candidate for the permanent All Whites head coach role had to be called upon to help manage a family health issue meaning they weren’t able to take up the position ahead of these fixtures.
New Zealand Football CEO Andrew Pragnell is excited to see the team in Aotearoa New Zealand again and to continue the momentum of recent home fixtures:
“Having our teams play at home is really important to us, the team, the fans and to continue building the game in New Zealand.
“Following the success of our September games against the Socceroos, and the record-breaking Ford Football Ferns series against the USA in January, we are really pleased to confirm these two home fixtures against China to kick off the new All Whites qualifying cycle.
“The year ahead looks exciting for the men’s programme. We will be hosting the Paris 2024 Olympics OFC qualification tournament for the men in New Zealand in September and have some incredible games in Europe in the works for the June, October and November windows.
“This will be, hands down, the best preparation the men’s team have had leading into a World Cup cycle and playing at home every year will enable the fans to engage like never before.
“We had planned to have the new permanent All Whites head coach in place for the March window, but due to a personal family situation for our leading candidate this wasn’t possible.
“We didn’t however want this to delay the team playing so want to thank Darren Bazeley for stepping up from U-20s head coach to take on the team on an interim basis.”
In addition to the All Whites games, the men’s U-23 side will also play a curtain raiser against China’s U-23 team before both fixtures.
Interim head coach Darren Bazeley is looking forward to bringing the team home again and kicking off the next All Whites cycle:
“Everyone involved in last year’s game at Eden Park knew what a special moment it was for the team to be in New Zealand so I’m honoured to be given the chance to bring the squad back again.
“We know what a talented group of players we have and the whole team is excited to get the chance to show what they can do against a good opposition.
“This tour is also a great opportunity for our U-23 players to spend time with the senior squad to properly understand what it takes to be an All White. It’s a great chance for players from both squads to meet knowing that, should we qualify, a number of our senior players will form part of our Olympic side.”