Gianni Stensens. photo / sports photo
New Zealand lost one of the best international players in football to Australia.
Gianni Stensis, who played for the Olympic team at the Tokyo Olympics, told coach Danny Hay that his loyalty lies elsewhere and he chose to represent Australia at the highest level.
Hay said he was disappointed but accepted the decision.
“I wouldn’t say it is not disappointing to see Gianni making that choice,” Hay said in a statement from Football New Zealand today.
“He has been part of the Olympic team that has shown how exciting the future of football in New Zealand is, and I believe his time in our national team has played a key role in its development. Ultimately that is his decision and we will respect it.”
Meanwhile, six players who have not played before have been named to All Whites’ 21-man squad to play against Curaçao and Bahrain next month.
It also includes 10 players who were part of the Olympic team that reached the quarter-finals in Tokyo.
The team is made up of players from outside Australia and New Zealand due to travel restrictions when returning to both countries.
“I think that speaks to the strength of the talent we’re developing and the success they’ve had abroad, where we can form a team without players from New Zealand and Australia,” Hay said.
“Obviously we would prefer to be in a position to bring in players from this part of the world, but I am confident in the team we have been able to put together and I know they all need some time to get back on the field after such a long time.”
Winston Reed is not available to play as he recently returned from injury, but he will join the team in a managerial role.
The team of 21 players is:
Stefan Marinovic (25 caps) Hapoel Nof Hagalil from Israel
Nikola Tzanev (1 game) Wimbledon, England
Michael Wood (2 matches) Almira City, Netherlands
Michael Boxall (33 caps) Minnesota United vs.
Nico Boxall (3 caps) SGK Seinäjoki, Finland
Liberato Kakas (3 caps) in Saint-Truidens in Belgium
Kelvin Kalua * (0 capital) Eastern Suburbs, New Zealand (currently in trial in Europe)
Nico Kirwan (0 matches) Padova from Italy
Nando Bignaker (1 match) FC Helsingor (on loan from Rio FC), Denmark
Tommy Smith (38 caps) Colchester United, England
Bill Tuiluma (26 caps) Portland Timbers vs
Dalton Wilkins (0 caps) Kolding (on loan from Helsingor) Denmark
Joe Bell (2 caps) Viking FK from Norway
Joseph Champs * (0 caps) Gersonspor, Turkey
Matthew Garbet * (0 matches) Turin, Italy
Sarpreet Singh (6 caps) SSV Jan Regensburg (on loan from Bayern Munich) from Germany
* Marko Stamenic (0 caps) HB Kog (on loan from Copenhagen FC), Denmark
Andre de Jong (4 caps) Amazulu of South Africa
Elijah Jost (2 matches) Helsingor Denmark
Callum Makwat (1 cap) FC Helsingor, Denemarken
Chris Wood (57 caps) Burnley (England)
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