WELLINGTON Phoenix captain Andrew Durante has gained New Zealand citizenship in time to be named in a 19-man squad for the All Whites’ World Cup qualifiers later this month.
But the Sydney-born defender’s appearance in the team to play against New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands is still subject to FIFA approval.
“Andrew is now a New Zealand citizen and New Zealand Football will continue to work through the process to allow him to play for the All Whites as soon as possible,” said New Zealand Football high performance director Fred de Jong.
Durante, who sat on the Socceroos’ reserves bench for a match against Indonesia in 2010, moved to Wellington in 2008 after helping the Newcastle Jets to the A-League title the previous season.
New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert has left open the captain’s appointment until the squad assembles in Dunedin on March 19 to play New Caledonia three days later.
New Zealand need to win to be guaranteed a place in the intercontinental playoff in November.
The All Whites accounted for New Caledonia 2-0 in Noumea last September but Herbert isn’t taking the Dunedin leg lightly.
“There are no easy games in international football – we’ve proved that in recent years and also had a timely reminder of it from New Caledonia at the OFC Nations Cup in Honiara last year,” Herbert said.
New Zealand squad: Mark Paston (Wellington Phoenix), Glen Moss (Wellington Phoenix), Winston Reid (West Ham United), Tony Lochhead (Wellington Phoenix), Ben Sigmund (Wellington Phoenix), Tommy Smith (Ipswich Town), Ian Hogg (Wellington Phoenix), Andrew Durante (Wellington Phoenix), Leo Bertos (Wellington Phoenix), Michael McGlinchey (Central Coast Mariners), Dan Keat (Unattached), Ivan Vicelich (Auckland City), Tim Payne (Blackburn Rovers), Shane Smeltz (Perth Glory), Chris Killen (Chongqing), Marco Rojas (Melbourne Victory), Jeremy Brockie (Wellington Phoenix), Kosta Barbarouses (Panathinaikos), Chris Wood (Leicester City).