All Whites coach Anthony Hudson will make history when his team lines up against Russia in the opening game of the FIFA Confederation Cup.
At 36 years and 98 days old, Hudson will be the youngest coach in FIFA Confederations Cup history when his team takes on the hosts Russia on 18 June (NZT) in the ‘Tournament of Champions’.
That record currently belongs to former Nigeria coach Shaibu Amodu, who was 36 years and 263 days old when he managed his country at the 1995 FIFA Confederations Cup.
“I am very proud to be the coach of New Zealand’s national team and to be the youngest coach in this tournament is an honour,” said Hudson.
“However, it’s not about me at all, it is about the players, the team and what we are trying to achieve. There is huge belief within this squad. Our goal is to go to Russia and make New Zealand proud. We have a very strong squad, a great build-up and we can’t wait to get there and show the world what we can do.”
The All Whites, who have never won a game at a FIFA Confederations Cup, have drawn Russia, Mexico and European champions Portugal in the tournament which is from 17 June to 2 July.
Hudson has made a statement of intent that his All Whites side is going to Russia to upset some of the world’s best teams.
“This team has been on a good run for a long time now and we are building nicely. We know that we are up against some of the best teams in the world but we are confident that we can deliver some performances to show that we belong.”
Hudson has always had football in his blood. The son of former Arsenal, Chelsea, Stoke City and England midfielder Alan Hudson, Anthony grew up at West Ham United’s academy and then signed professionally for NEC Nijmegen in the Dutch Eredivie. However, after not fulfilling his playing career he opted to move into coaching and has not disappointed.
At 27, he was appointed head coach at Real Maryland Monarchs in the USA 2nd division. By 32, he was coaching the Bahrain national team and when he was 33 he moved to New Zealand to take charge of the All Whites.
In his time, Hudson has developed great depth in the national squad by bedding in and investing in youth, showing strong performances with a young team against the likes of South Korea and Oman. In the last two years having coached the U-23 and All Whites he has built a consistent record of 12 wins, 3 draws and 1 loss, with 28 goals for and 5 against. Last June he won his first title when the All Whites won the OFC Nations Cup in Papua New Guinea.
Since then the All Whites showed their ability on a successful tour of the USA where they went down 2-1 to Mexico and drew 1-1 with the USA. They went on to defeat New Caledonia and Fiji (over home and away fixtures) to advance to the OFC Final Stage of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup in Russia in 2018 which they will contest in August / September.
But that is all to come and right now Hudson is focused on getting his team at their best for their biggest challenge so far, the FIFA Confederations Cup.
“Everyone is full of confidence, we have a strong team spirit, everyone is playing for each other and I know the team is going to enjoy the challenge of playing against some of the world’s best.”
The All Whites will stage a training camp in Auckland next week before the pre tour which includes international friendlies against Northern Ireland and Belarus and a game against club side Cabinteely FC in Dublin.
All Whites fixtures pre-FIFA Confederations Cup
2 June v Northern Ireland in Belfast, Northern Ireland (3 June NZT)
6 June v Cabinteely FC in Dublin, Republic of Ireland (7 June NZT)
12 June v Belarus in Minsk, Belarus (13 June NZT)
2017 FIFA Confederations Cup – All Whites draw
17 June 6pm (3am 18 June NZT) v Russia, Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg
21 June 9pm (6am 22 June NZT) v Mexico Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi
24 June 6pm (3am 25 June NZT) v Portugal, Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg
All FCC matches live on SKY Sport