New Zealand football won’t give up on injured defender at Tokyo Olympics
New Zealand men’s soccer coach Danny Hay is not giving up hope that senior defender Michael Boxall will be present at the Tokyo Olympics, despite a premature injury that delayed his arrival and ruled him out of the opener.
Boxall is the only member of the 22-man squad not to join the OlyWhites in Japan after sustaining a thigh injury while playing for his Major League Soccer club Minnesota United earlier this month.
Hay confirmed that Boxall is still in the United States and would miss Thursday’s opener against South Korea in Kashima, but he had no plans to look for a permanent replacement, hoping the 32-year-old center-back. years would recover in time to have some involvement later in the tournament.
The last time Winston Reid played for New Zealand in a tournament he was a rookie. Now, at the Tokyo Olympics, he’s the captain.
Boxall was one of three major players selected for the Under-24 squad, along with captain Winston Reid and Chris Wood.
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“We’re giving him as much time as possible, and if that means we have him for the last group game, then fantastic, that would be like bringing in a new signing,” said Hay.
“I hope if we do what we’re capable of and qualify for the next round, if he’s there for that, then brilliant.
New Zealand footballers are hoping to advance to the round of 16, while the Football Ferns have been placed in the ‘death group’.
“We made a commitment to him and the rest of the team to give Boxy as much time as needed to try to prove his fitness so he can come here.
“The reality is this is a day-to-day injury and we are working with Minnesota, our medical team and their medical team to get a clear picture.”
Hay said NZ Football had resisted the call for a permanent replacement for Boxall because he believed he was an important player for the senior national team and wanted to give him every chance to get involved.
With Boxall out for his first game, Hay will need to look to at least one of his three Under-24 center-backs – Nando Pijnaker, George Stanger and Gianni Stensness – to start alongside Reid against South Korea.
Pijnaker and Stensness started both the OlyWhites’ two warm-up matches against Australia last week, although neither match is broadcast, it is unclear exactly how the team lined up.
“It’s an integral part of what we’re trying to accomplish. The leadership he can show and bring to a young group, I think, was going to be vitally important, ”said Hay.
“You look at the level he’s playing, he’s in MLS and he’s considered one of the best if not the best central defenseman in the league. He’s an important player for us, that’s why we’re giving him as much time as possible.
“If we don’t get it, I really feel it, but we’re very confident in the group we have here that they can get the job done anyway.”
Aside from Boxall, Hay said he has a full squad in his own right for his clash against the Asian Under-23 champions, who stand out as the OlyWhites’ toughest opponent in Group B, including Alex Paulsen, Ben Old, Matthew Garbett and Sam. Sutton, who were originally named traveling reserves.
Hay said the four substitutes were ‘buzzing’ when they heard the teams would be extended to 22 following a last-minute rule change, with at least one in line to feature. in the matchday squad Thursday.
OlyWhites at the Tokyo Olympics
Goalkeepers: Alex Paulsen, Jamie Searle, Michael Woud
Defenders: Michael Boxall, Liberato Cacace, Callan Elliot, Dane Ingham, Nando Pijnaker, Winston Reid, George Stanger, Sam Sutton
Midfielder : Joe Bell, Clayton Lewis, Ben Old, Marko Stamenic, Gianni Stensness
Forward: Joey Champness, Matt Garbett, Elijah Just, Callum McCowatt, Ben Waine, Chris Wood
Thursday July 22, 8 p.m .: against South Korea
Sunday July 25, 8 p.m .: against Honduras
Wednesday July 28, 8:30 p.m .: v Romania
Rio 2016: Did not qualify
London 2012: Finished 16th out of 16 teams with a draw (against Egypt) and two losses (against Belarus and Brazil).
Outlook for Tokyo
Even without Sarpreet Singh, the OlyWhites’ team for the Tokyo Olympics is arguably the strongest New Zealand has ever sent to a men’s soccer tournament. While other countries have failed to bring out older players – and even some minors – for the predominantly U-24 event, English Premier League star Chris Wood is on board, and With Liberato Cacace, Clayton Lewis, and Michael Woud after strong club campaigns, hopes are high that the team can secure a first Olympic victory, and after that, a place in the round of 16. Limited preparation time – and in particular, lack of match training – will be their biggest concern.