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Football: Mumbai City coach Des Buckingham opts out of race for All Whites job

Des Buckingham. Photo / Photosport

English coach Des Buckingham has opted out of the race to become the next All Whites coach.

The former Junior All Whites mentor was believed to be among the five candidates shortlisted to succeed Danny Hay as All Whites coach.

Buckingham — who has had coaching spells in England, Australia and New Zealand at assistant and junior levels before becoming head coach at Indian Super League club Mumbai City — has declined pursuing the All Whites job to sign a two-year contract extension to stay in Mumbai .

“I informed New Zealand Football that I would be taking this opportunity a couple of days ago,” Buckingham told the Times of India.

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“When this opportunity was put in front of me, this was the very clear one where you want to be. This is the largest and biggest footballing group in the world, that is not only showing a great deal of support but also trust in me as an individual and also what we do here.”

Buckingham joined Mumbai City after two years as assistant coach of Melbourne City in the A-League. Both teams are owned by the City Football Group, which owns and operates 12 clubs worldwide including Premier League champions Manchester City.

The other names in the All Whites coach shortlist also have a New Zealand link and are believed to include Wellington Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay and New Zealand under-20 coach Darren Bazeley.

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Interviews for the job were completed late last year, with an announcement expected later this month.

NZ Football boss Andrew Pragnell told the Herald last month that long term continuity with an eye on the 2026 World Cup was a key factor in deciding the next All Whites coach.

“It’s about understanding why someone might be interested in New Zealand as obviously we have a clearer path to the World Cup in 2026,” Pragnell said.

“It’s going to be desirable to a number of people and we wanted to ensure that people are not just doing it for that reason only. We’re looking for longer term continuity, someone who would invest themselves into the country and therefore, ideally has some form of connection to the country.”

The All Whites will have a significantly easier road to the 2026 World Cup in North America, with Fifa’s expansion of the tournament from 32 to 48 teams meaning Oceania will have one direct spot into the finals instead of an intercontinental playoff.

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