Words: ACFC Media
Friday 11 March 2022
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC's Cam Howieson can't wait to get started after he received a call-up to the New Zealand men's national team for the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in Qatar next week.
Howieson, who has won 13 international caps, last featured for his country four years ago when he played at the Intercontinental Cup against Kenya, Chinese Taipei and India.
The 27-year-old described his call-up as an honour.
"It is obviously an honour for me to be called up to represent New Zealand and I can't wait to meet up with the squad in the Middle East next week.
"I've tried to keep myself as fit as possible and we've been in pre-season with the club for six weeks so hopefully I can keep that going.
"There are a lot of players in the squad because of Covid-19 which is something new and that's something we have to adapt to," Howieson said.
Auckland City FC coach Ivan Vicelich said everyone at the club was delighted for Howieson and said the biggest quality required will be a strong mentality.
"I played for New Zealand as an Auckland City FC player so I understand what is required to make the step-up to the next level.
"The most important aspect is to have a strong mentality and be very focused.
"The FIFA World Cup Qualifiers are a tough competition but I am sure Cam will be ready.
"He's a very experienced player and knows what to expect and everyone wishes him, and Brian Kaltack at Vanuatu, well," Vicelich said.
Howieson won't feel alone in the New Zealand squad with several familiar faces from their time at Kiwitea Street also in the squad.
Clayton Lewis, Oliver Sail, Nikko Boxall, Dalton Wilkins, Tim Payne and Callum McCowatt are also included in coach Danny Hay's set-up with Michael Boxall, another former Navy Blues player, on the standby list.
Adding further texture to the competition is the presence of former Navy Blues Champions League winner Micah Lea'alafa in the Solomon Islands squad while Brian Kaltak will lead Vanuatu in their quest for World Cup glory in Group A.
Another familiar face is former Navy Blues striker Maro Bonsu-Maro who will wear the green shirt of the Cook Islands.
Roy Krishna, who appeared for Auckland City FC at the FIFA Club World Cup nine years ago and scored a goal against Raja Casablanca, will be relied upon to get goals for Fiji.
FIFA World Cup Qualifiers (Oceania)
17 March Cook Islands v Solomon Islands
17 March Tahiti v Vanuatu
20 March Cook Islands v Tahiti
20 March Solomon Islands v Vanuatu
24 March Vanuatu v Cook Islands
24 March Solomon Islands v Tahiti
18 March Papua New Guinea v New Zealand
18 March New Caledonia v Fiji
21 March Papua New Guinea v New Caledonia
21 March New Zealand v Fiji
24 March New Zealand v New Caledonia
24 March Fiji v Papua New Guinea
27 March Winner Group A v Runner-up Group B
27 March Winner Group B v Runner-up Group A
30 March Winner SemiFinal 1 v Winner SemiFinal 2
v Wellington Olympic, 11 March 2023, KO: TBC