COLCHESTER United skipper Tommy Smith has been called up to the New Zealand squad for upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Oceania qualifiers in Qatar, later this month.

The 31-year-old has been named in the All Whites squad for the tournament, where they will be aiming to earn a spot at the 2022 World Cup, in Qatar.

Smith told the U's website: "It's always an honour and a privilege to be called up to the National Team.

"I'll be doing all I can to ensure it's a successful initial qualification process for us as a group, and another step towards our ultimate goal of qualifying for the Qatar World Cup."


The eight-team tournament takes place between March 17 and March 31, with New Zealand taking on Papua New Guinea (March 19), Fiji (March 22) and New Caledonia (March 25) in Group B.

This is followed by further group games against Fiji and New Caledonia (March 25) with the top-two sides progressing to the semi-finals against the top two Group A teams.

The final will be held on March 31, with the winner of the short tournament progressing to the Intercontinental Play-Off, for a place at this year's World Cup.

Smith, who has 42 caps for his country, is likely to miss Colchester's upcoming games against Forest Green (March 21) and Tranmere Rovers (March 26), as a result of his call-up.

The experienced defender, who has earned his fourth New Zealand call-up this season, will be hoping to help his country qualify for the World Cup for the first time since South Africa 2010, where he played in each of their three group games.

Smith has made 30 league and cup appearances for Colchester so far, this season.

The former Ipswich Town defender has clocked up 77 appearances in total for the U's since joining them in the summer of 2020.

New Zealand head coach Danny Hay said: “We knew this would be a challenging squad to put together but I'm confident in the team we've been able to assemble.

“I want to thank all the clubs for the flexibility they have shown when making their players available.

“Over the past year we have shown people what we are capable of as a team.

"Now is when we have to put everything we have been talking about into practice as we fight to return to the FIFA World Cup.”