Canada Soccer announced on Thursday that the Canadian national team will kick off the John Herdman era on March 24 with a friendly against New Zealand in Murcia, Spain.
Herdman, hired to be the new CanMNT coach after coaching the Canadian women's national team since 2011, will also serve as a first look at the national team before the start of a new World Cup cycle later this year, and before the expected start of the CONCACAF Nations League, where regional countries will play each other in an ongoing league format.
“This match is a great opportunity to be face to face with members of the men’s national team program and establish the foundations and relationships that will align Canada’s men’s national team program towards a goal of consistent winning performances,” said Herdman in a statement. “Outreach to the men’s national team player pool is part of our ongoing program review and I look forward to selecting a roster and preparing a team that will take on a very strong New Zealand side.”
The friendly against New Zealand will be the first meeting between the teams since 1980, when Canada won twice against the All Whites. Herdman also previously coached there, leading the New Zealand women's national team from 2006-11.
"New Zealand has and always will hold a special place in my heart as it gave me my first opportunity to work in international football as well as the chance to be part of leaving a special legacy with the Whole of Football Plan,” said Herdman. “I am pleased that I will have the chance to begin this new chapter for Canada against New Zealand.”