FIFA U-20 WC: Group E Preview

The New Zealand squad celebrates winning the OFC U-20 Championship at Port Vila Stadium in Vanuatu. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / www.phototek.nz

The New Zealand U-20s have arrived in the Korea Republic and are preparing for the FIFA U-20 World Cup which begins on Saturday.

New Zealand, who made the Round of 16 when the tournament was hosted here in New Zealand two years ago, will begin their tournament on 22 May when they face Vietnam, and then they meet Honduras (25 May) and France (28 May) in Group E.

The Darren Bazeley-coached team had a week’s preparation in China where they lost 2-0 to the Mexico U-20s and defeated Chinese club side Shandong Luneng FC 4-1 to get ready for the main event.

We take a look at New Zealand’s opposition in Group E and how they qualified for the FIFA U-20 World Cup.

Vietnam
Captain: Nyugen Trong Dai (Vittel)
Key Player: Ha Durc Chinh (SHB Da Nang FC)

Vietnam booked their place in the tournament after beating hosts Bahrain 1-0 in the quarter final of the 2016 AFC U19 Championship with Tran Thanh scoring the winner. After progressing to the final four of the tournament, they were knocked out by Japan in the semi-finals (3-0), but booked their place in Group E, where they will play New Zealand in their opening match. Within Vietnam’s debut campaign, they host plenty of talent, including the likes of Ha Durc Chinh who plays his football with SHB Da Nang FC in the V.League 1. He has an impressive goal tally of 16 goals in 19 appearances for the Vietnam U-20s. Vietnam has toured Europe in the build-up to their first FIFA U-20 World Cup. They will open their FIFA U-20 World Cup campaign against New Zealand at Cheonan Stadium on 22 May.

Recent Results:
Vietnam 0-1 Borussia Monchengladbach II
Vietnam 4-0 Roda JC U-21
Vietnam 4-1 Fortuna Dusseldorf U19
Vietnam 1-4 Argentina
Vietnam 1-1 Vanuatu

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Honduras
Captain: Dylan Andrade (Platense)
Key Player: Jorge Alvarez (Olimpia)

Honduras qualified for the tournament after making to the final of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship, where they went down to the USA in the final on penalties. Honduras is no stranger to the tournament, after making 16 appearances since 1977. Their most recent record in the tournament was a group stage finish in 2015 after falling to an upset loss against Fiji and failing to beat Germany in their final game of the tournament. One of their key players, Jorge Alvarez, plays a huge role in anchoring the midfield after scoring three goals in six games in their qualifying tournament. He was also named in the team of the tournament in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship. They open their campaign against one of the favourites of the tournament France on 22 May.

Recent Results:
Honduras 2-3 Korea Republic
Honduras 1-4 Zambia

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France
Captain: Lucas Tousart (Lyon)
Key Player: Marcus Thuram (Sochaux)

Two years ago, New Zealand met France in their opening match at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile where France finished as comfortable winners, prevailing 6-1. Both teams progressed out of the group stage but were both knocked out by Brazil (New Zealand) and Costa Rica (France) in the Round of 16. France has built on the FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign, by winning the 2016 UEFA U-19 Championship. They beat Italy 4-0 in the final. They have recently hosted a four nations tournament where they played England (1-0 loss), Portugal (2-2) and Senegal (3-0 win) as part of their build-up to the FIFA U-20 World Cup. One of France’s key players for the tournament is Marcus Thuram, the son of former French great Lillian Thuram. He has made seven appearances for the French side and has scored two goals. France will open up their FIFA U-20 World Cup campaign against Honduras on 22 May.

Recent Results:
France 0-1 England
France 2-2 Portugal
France 3-0 Senegal

FIFA U-20 World Cup – New Zealand’s fixtures
–          Vietnam at Cheonan Stadium, 22 May at 8pm (11pm NZT)
–          Honduras at Cheonan Stadium, 25 May at 8pm (11pm NZT)
–          France at Daejeon World Cup Stadium, 28 May at 3pm (6pm NZT)

All games live on SKY Sport

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