New Zealand U-20 coach Darren Bazeley has a simple message for his team after they opened their FIFA U-20 World Cup with a 0-0 draw with Vietnam last night in Cheonan, Korea.
Bazeley believes his team needs to perform better if they want to realise their dream of improving on their Round of 16 effort from the 2015 tournament two years ago here in New Zealand.
The New Zealand U-20s, who had four All Whites in their starting line-up, got off to a slow start as they took on the FIFA World Cup debutants. They finished the game the stronger of the two sides but could not convert a host of late chances to claim all three points.
They currently sit tied second in Group E on one point level with Vietnam after France opened their campaign with a 3-0 victory over Honduras to lead the group.
Bazeley said the performance of Vietnam underlined what they expected that any opposition at a FIFA World Cup is going to be tough to beat.
“Vietnam played well and we knew they would after they qualified through a very tough group in Asia,” he said. “Any team that is here at a World Cup is here on merit. We know that we are going to have to work very hard and perform better if we are going to do what we set out to and that is win games here.”
New Zealand had a handful of chances in the final 20 minutes – the best one falling to substitute Logan Rogerson who was unlucky not to score – but could not find the finishing touch to put the game to bed.
It was that sort of night for New Zealand as Vietnam, the 19th Asian team to compete at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, frustrated them with a determined display in front of almost 7000 fans who were going crazy.
“It was a hard game, it was very competitive,” said Bazeley. “Vietnam came out and settled into the game better than what we did. There was a big Vietnamese crowd there and that really helped them. It was almost like a home game for them. They drew a lot of energy and tempo from that. They started on the front foot and we are off the pace. It took us awhile to get into the game. In the second half we went out and I thought we grew into the game and we created some more chances.”
Bazeley expected that his team would be better for the performance and their focus is on nothing else but claiming all three points when they take on Honduras on Thursday night (11pm NZT) in what shapes as a must-win clash.
“Ultimately we did go out to win this game and we are disappointed with the result. That sums up the position we are moving towards where we are disappointed to not win games at World Cups.”
New Zealand complete their pool play on Sunday (6pm NZT) when they take on France.
New Zealand’s Group E Fixtures at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic
Honduras – Thursday 25 May 11pm (NZ time)
France – Sunday 28 May 6pm (NZ time)
All matches live on SKY Sport