Durante free to play for NZ

No hassles ... Durante should be in the New Zealand squad for the intercontinental play-off (Getty)

FIFA cleared New Zealand of the charge of wrongly fielding Australian-born Andrew Durante in a World Cup qualifier, paving the way for his return for the All Whites.

FIFA launched disciplinary proceedings against New Zealand after a dispute over Durante's citizenship when he played in th final Oceania group match against Solomon Islands in March.

A New Zealand Football statement explained it had been advised by FIFA that "Durante is eligible" to play for New Zealand.

"To have a final decision is very welcome, both for New Zealand Football and for Andrew," New Zealand Football's high performance director Fred de Jong was quoted as saying.

"We were confident that Andrew met all of the necessary requirements to be eligible to play for New Zealand but it was important we went through the process to ensure his status was unable to be questioned.

"Andrew can now concentrate on his career with the All Whites and, if selected, helping them to reach the FIFA 2014 World Cup Brazil. It also enables New Zealand Football to plan the upcoming campaign with certainty.

Durante became a New Zealand citizen on 6 March and first played for the All Whites 20 days later in the 2-0 win over Solomon Islands.

However, there was a question over whether the three months the Wellington Phoenix skipper spent on loan to Australian side Sydney FC in 2011 affected FIFA's requirement for five years of continuous residency before approving a change of nationality.

New Zealand's next step towards the World Cup is home-and-away matches in November against the fourth-placed Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) side, which is likely to be Mexico or Panama.

Source AFP