Seven Nix named in NZ U-23 squad

Wellington Phoenix players make up close to a third of the New Zealand U-23 men’s squad selected for the upcoming OFC Olympic qualifying tournament in Auckland.

Phoenix first-team players Alex Paulsen, Finn Surman, Oskar van Hattum and Lukas Kelly-Heald have been named in the 23-strong squad, along with reserve team players Isaac Hughes, Dan McKay and Alby Kelly-Heald, who are all currently training with the club’s senior men’s team.

Surman, Hughes, McKay and the Kelly-Heald twins were all part of the New Zealand side that reached the last 16 of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina in May.

Phoenix reserves head coach Chris Greenacre has also joined the New Zealand U-23 men’s staff as an assistant.

Head coach Darren Bazeley is exciting about kicking off the new under-23 cycle and starting to work towards their goal of qualifying for Paris 2024.

“Following the FIFA Women’s World Cup, football has never been in a better place in New Zealand so it is great to have this tournament at home and continue that momentum,” Bazeley said.

“I’m really pleased with the squad and staff we have been able to assemble and know the team can’t wait to come into camp next week.

“The unique thing about this tournament is that we are able to add and amend our squad from game to game. So while I want to congratulate the 23 players named, I also want to make clear to players who just missed out on this initial selection that the door is very much still open, including for our players based overseas.”

The men’s OFC Olympic qualifying tournament will be played in Tāmaki Makaurau from 27 August–9 September with matches at Go Media Stadium Mt. Smart, The Trusts Arena and North Harbour Stadium. 

New Zealand U-23 are in Group A with Fiji and Papua New Guinea and will play both of their matches at Go Media Stadium.