However, it is not the same good news story for those who were hoping to come in from elsewhere and face off against European opposition, as both Australia and New Zealand have had to curtail their previous plans.

Plans that as far as the New Zealand national team were concerned, would see them make a trip to the hallowed ground of Wembley Stadium on Thursday November 12th and face Gareth Southgate’s England.

Unfortunately, this is no longer the case and although the Republic Of Ireland will step in at short notice to provide England’s upcoming opposition, it is a real hammer blow for one of the more isolated nations of the international game.

With New Zealand being so far away and not in tune with Europe’s football calendar, it can make the scheduling of international fixtures incredibly difficult and this is why a trip to the home of football, is one that was so keenly anticipated.

However, with quarantine restrictions being as they are, the prospect of such a glamour fixture had certainly diminished and with some All Whites facing the potential of also missing out on domestic action on their return, it also presented a threat to their professional livelihoods.

Because as good as 90 minutes under the Wembley floodlights would have been, the likelihood of missing out on club football back in New Zealand could have far reaching consequences and when you couple that with any potential health risk, the desire to travel abroad will soon dissipate.

Not only that, but with commercial flight options being few and far between at present, there was also the possible risk of either not being able to source the necessary flight or arriving so late, that a playing squad could not be assembled.

Something that would only prove to be an embarrassment for New Zealand Football (NZF) and if such a risk were to be taken, it could also leave the Three Lions without an opposition to square off against.

While their Tasman cousins Australia have also decided to stay put in November, as training camp and friendly options were no longer feasible in the current climate and in a recent statement, the Football Federation Australia (FFA) had this to say:

“Regrettably, the ongoing and worsening COVID-19 landscape across Europe has provided complexities and risks to assemble players from across Europe and Asia and, following the latest advice from medical professionals, FFA will not be proceeding with activities in Europe at this time”

Which just goes to show that if competitive football is played within one continent, the issues that are presented can be cleared and this has been evident with the start of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in South America.

However, there is still a big question regarding cross-continental football and further down the line there will also be the need for intercontinental play-offs to take place, so that the last few entrants for Qatar 2022 can be revealed.

The hope that everyone shares, is one that sees a vaccine introduced into society and football’s borders can then be opened as freely as they were before. Unfortunately, as New Zealand and Australia have both recently learned, we’re nowhere near that stage yet,

Written by Dan Tracey

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