Soccer: Durante ruled out of qualifier

Australian-born defender Andrew Durante will remain with the All Whites soccer squad but won't be in line to make his debut in the World Cup qualifier against New Caledonia. Photo / Getty Images.
Australian-born defender Andrew Durante will remain with the All Whites soccer squad but won't be in line to make his debut in the World Cup qualifier against New Caledonia. Photo / Getty Images.

Australian-born defender Andrew Durante will remain with the All Whites soccer squad but won't be in line to make his debut in the World Cup qualifier against New Caledonia.

Durante has taken up New Zealand citizenship, but New Zealand Football are continuing to seek confirmation from world governing body Fifa that the 30-year-old meets all eligibility criteria.

NZF high performance director Fred de Jong said he had further contact with FIFA overnight but the situation remained unresolved.

De Jong said he spoke to All Whites coach Ricki Herbert on Thursday morning and a decision was made that Durante would not take part in the game in Dunedin on Friday night.

An assessment would be made after that match about what involvement the Wellington Phoenix skipper would have in New Zealand's final fixture of the Oceania qualifying phase, away to the Solomon Islands on Tuesday.

De Jong said Herbert would convey the decision to Durante before the day's early training session.

He said Durante had needed to satisfy three criteria under FIFA rules relating to a player acquiring a new nationality: citizenship, not having played for another country and having lived in New Zealand for five years.

There was no concern over the first two.

But there was uncertainty over the third, which Durante had met under New Zealand law requiring residency of 1350 days over five years and 240 in each of those years.

"What we've asked FIFA is: we've sent you some documentation, can you tell us whether he's eligible or not?" de Jong said.

"What they've said is they cannot say that, that it's up to the association to be sure that he's eligible."

De Jong said NZF did not want to risk playing Durante if it meant his eligibility could be challenged later on, putting the All Whites' qualifying campaign at risk.

-AAP

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