New Zealand Football have put plans in place for the All Whites to make a remarkable return to the international stage post-Covid with an October friendly against World No.1 Belgium.
NZF announced this morning the New Zealand men’s team have “laid provisional plans” to take on Belgium at King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels on Friday October 9 later this year.
All Whites head coach Danny Hay said the opportunity is “massive” for his side.
“This is a real opportunity for the team to test themselves against some of the best players on the planet,” Hay said.
“Playing any game in this environment is going to have its difficulties but I can’t wait to be back with the squad.”
NZF CEO Andrew Pragnell said the return of club football across Europe reassured them to pursue the fixture despite the Covid-19 pandemic continuing to be a global issue that has enforced travel restrictions around the world.
“Putting on any sporting event in these times is challenging but the return of professional club football over these past months, and now international football across Europe has been very encouraging,” Pragnell said.
The number of Kiwis playing professional football in Europe now makes fixtures such as this more viable at this time.”
Pragnell added NZF would be approaching the prospect of this event “cautiously” with every step taken to ensure the safety of players.
An agreement has also been made with the Royal Belgian Football Association that if at any point either football association deem the event unsafe, it will be cancelled.
“A few months ago, it didn’t look like international football would be able to happen this year, and this event is provisional on health and safety assessments being met,” Pragnell said.
“However being proactive in our planning like this will ensure we don’t miss out on opportunities to best prepare the All Whites for 2022 FIFA WC qualification.”