Danny Hay and his New Zealand U-17 team know their path at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India in October.
The OFC Champions, who claimed the title earlier this year with emphatic 7-0 win over New Caledonia in Tahiti, have been drawn in Group B alongside Paraguay, Mali and Turkey.
The Official Draw for the FIFA U-17 World Cup, which will be played in six venues across India between 6 and 28 October 2017, took place on Friday in Mumbai.
The Danny Hay coached team will take some confidence from their performance in Chile two years ago. In that tournament they defeated Paraguay 2-1 in their final group game to advance to the Round of 16.
They competed well with one of the tournament favourites Brazil and were only beaten 1-0 by a Luís Henrique penalty in injury time.
The goal for Hay and the team is to continue the good success of New Zealand teams at age grade level after Darren Bazeley’s advanced to the Round of 16 for the first time away from home at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea.
The New Zealand U-17s were dominant in their victory of the OFC U-17 Championship in February.
They defeated Samoa (11-0), Solomon Islands (2-1) and Fiji (5-0) before edging past Papua New Guinea 2-1 in their semi-final and were comfortable winners over New Caledonia to become six-time consecutive champions.
Both teams already qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India under the new qualification rules.
New Zealand clean swept all of the awards from the OFC U-17 Championship with Charles Spragg (seven goals) claiming the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball, Zac Jones took out the Golden Gloves award and the team claimed the Fair Play award. They know they are in for a much tougher challenge in India.
The FIFA U-17 World Cup draw revealed that hosts India will take on USA in their opening match of the competition in New Delhi. Group A also includes Colombia and Ghana, who will also clash as part of the first day’s action.
FIFA tournament debutants Niger were drawn with Korea DPR, Brazil, and Spain.
The draw ceremony was held in the presence of Sunil Gulati, FIFA Council member, Praful Patel, President of the All India Football Federation and Vijay Goel, Indian Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports.
Assisting in the draw ceremony were FIFA Legends Esteban Cambiasso and Nwankwo Kanu, as well as Indian national team legend Sunil Chhetri and Indian badminton star Pusarla Venkata Sindhu.
One of the highlights of the ceremony was the performance of the tournament’s Official Song. Pritam and Babul Supriyo revealed ‘Kar Ke Dikhla De Goal’ for the first time, much to the delight of the assembled audience.
FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 Draw
Group A: India, USA, Colombia, Ghana
Group B: Paraguay, Mali, New Zealand, Turkey
Group C: Iran, Guinea, Germany, Costa Rica
Group D: Korea DPR, Niger, Brazil, Spain
Group E: Honduras, Japan, New Caledonia, France
Group F: Iraq, Mexico, Chile, England
New Zealand’s Group B games at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India
Friday 6 October, kick off 5:30pm local time (Saturday 7 October 1am NZT)
Dr DY Patil Stadium, Mumbai
Monday 9 October, kick off 8pm local time (Tuesday 10 October 3:30am NZT)
Dr DY Patil Stadium, Mumbai
Thursday 12 October, kick off 5pm local time (Friday 13 October 12:30am NZT)
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi
All games live on SKY Sport NZ