Australian-born Oliver Duncan has crossed the ditch to represent New Zealand as the only overseas-based player selected for the Kiwi side as they aim to successfully defend their title at the OFC U-17 Championship in Tahiti this month.
“I felt confident about making the team but when I was actually selected I was still a bit surprised,” he says.
“It was a really proud moment, it’s always good getting selected for the national team. Coming in I was a bit nervous in the new environment but all the boys helped me along so it’s been good.”
Duncan spent the winter season with Australia’s Brisbane Roar and, despite dealing with an injury, managed to take the field and experience the high quality football of the National Premier League U-18 Boys division.
“It was a good season, I only played half the games because of an injury but it was good to get on the pitch. The football was really good and of a really high intensity,” he says.
“It’s a lot more fitness-based over here with the New Zealand U-17s, a lot more running, but it’s quite similar in the style of play.”
With little knowledge on the new up-and-coming players in the teams from across the region, Duncan is confident his side will place high enough to qualify for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup but is still approaching each game with caution.
“Each team will bring a different aspect and it’s challenging because we don’t know how they play but we’ll take it one game at a time,” he says.
“I’m feeling really confident and we’ve got a good bunch of lads. I think we’ll bring home the cup and hopefully, if we continue, I’ll be making the World Cup squad.”
New Zealand will face Samoa in the first match of Group B in the OFC U-17 Championship at Stade Pater in Papeete, Tahiti on Monday 13 February at 3pm (NZT).
Story courtesy of OFC Media