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BOP talent’s international call-up

Whakatāne’s Jamie Searle has received his first call-up to the senior New Zealand men’s football team. Photo. Swansea City AFC.

One of the Bay of Plenty’s brightest sporting prospects has received a milestone accolade by being called up to the senior New Zealand men’s football team for the first time.

Whakatāne’s Jamie Searle, who went to the Olympics with the nation’s under-23 side earlier this year, has been included in head coach Danny Hay’s side for upcoming fixtures in the United Arab Emirates.

The All Whites will take on The Gambia and an as yet unannounced opponent in Abu Dhabi during the November international break.

Searle replaces Nik Tzanev from the All Whites squad that secured wins over Curacao and Bahrain last month. The AFC Wimbledon stopper is unavailable to travel due to ‘personal reasons’, according to Stuff.

The former Whakatāne Town, Tauranga City, Cambridge FC and Melville United goalkeeper is currently playing his football with Welsh outfit Swansea City in England’s second-tier Championship.

Searle signed a new contract with the club earlier this year, shortly before receiving his call-up to the Olympics, where New Zealand were eliminated by hosts Japan on penalties in the quarter-finals.

He took to Twitter after receiving the call-up to share his appreciation, declaring it a “massive honour”.

The youngster will be hoping to make his senior debut but is more likely to play a support role to the more seasoned Stefan Marinovic and Michael Woud.

He is joined in the squad by Ngongotahā’s Nando Pijnaker and another debutant in IFK Värnamo’s Francis de Vries.

“It’s great we are able to get together again so quickly after two good performances last month,” says Hay.

“We need to be playing games to develop as a team, especially after such a long break prior to October, so we want to take every opportunity we can.

“These games will allow us to look at a few new players who weren’t part of the last window as we continue to build towards FIFA World Cup qualifiers next year.”

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