Successful U23 coach aspires to All Whites post

Des Buckingham.
Des Buckingham.
Des Buckingham wants the chance to take his age-group success to the senior level.

The 34-year-old reiterated his interest in filling the vacant All Whites head coaching role while in Dunedin this week.

That role became available in June after Fritz Schmid left suddenly.

A replacement has not yet been named, but will need to be before the November matches against Ireland and Lithuania.

Buckingham has taken over the under-23 squad, which recently won the Pacific Games and is preparing for Olympic qualifiers.

It is the most recent of several successes he has had.

It follows a top-16 finish at the under-20 World Cup, in which his side won two games before being edged in a penalty shootout.

He also had success after taking over with the Wellington Phoenix, and has coached age-grade sides at Oxford United and Stoke City.

It was a record he felt stood him in good stead.

But it was also the style his teams had played that he felt was important.

''I think in the five years I've spent here I've shown, from a coaching point of view, I've shown what I want to do and what I can do,'' he said.

''That's without the stuff I've done previously in youth development at Oxford and Stoke.

''If I get the chance to drive that into the All Whites, I think we're certainly capable of taking that into the senior space as well.''

The under-20 campaign had been a key example of that.

In that, the side won two matches and scored eight goals along the way.

Had it not been for a controversial VAR decision, it might have made the quarterfinals.

It was a campaign Buckingham said was a ''pleasure'' to be part of.

''I think the style of football we played, we ended up creating so much history.

''We had more possession than we've ever had; we won two games at the World Cup, which we've never done before.

''We had our biggest age-group win and just the style of football we were able to showcase Kiwi players can play on the world stage was a huge outcome for us.

''That's something we can take into the under 23s.''

Getting more games for the national teams has been a talking point for a while and it was something Buckingham said was critical.

However, he also felt improvements were being made.

The All Whites had matches in Europe coming up, while the under-23 side would be in action in Australia and then at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Fiji.

That was important not only for the players, but the next wave of players as well.

''I think we want our players, whether they're junior or youth, just getting to see them.

''We've just seen a good showcase with the Ferns on the TV.

''The growth in the women's game has been successful, the under-17s coming back with a bronze medal, that in itself generates interest.

''If we can now do that - which we're starting to do - in the men's space, that will be important.''

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