New Zealand U-17 Women’s coach Gareth Turnbull is hoping to surprise the world when his side competes in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan in September.
The official draw for the event was made on Tuesday (NZ time) with New Zealand lining up in Group A against Jordan, Spain and Mexico in the tournament which will be played from September 30 – October 21.
New Zealand U-17 Women’s Coach Gareth Turnbull on the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Draw
Turnbull, who has been the head coach of the Women’s U-17 since March last year, said his girls would be ready for the challenge to make a name for themselves on the world stage.
“We are really excited about the group that we have,” said Turnbull from Jordan. “Hopefully we can surprise a few countries here because everyone here wanted to play us in the draw so coming in as underdogs will play nicely for us.”
Turnbull believed that Group A would probably be the most open of the competition. The Kiwis will play the opening game of the tournament against what they expect will be a tough Mexico side and their final game against the tournament hosts.
“To play the host nation in front of their home fans who will be a very supportive crowd that will be really exciting. It is not a bad draw to have and now it is time to do the business.”
Turnbull has been impressed by Jordan as a country. He said the people are very friendly, it has a Middle Eastern feel and it is also well organised.
“It is a fantastic little place. Every FIFA event is well organised and planned and we are expecting an amazing event in four months’ time.”
The New Zealand team are still in a phase of approaching the event as individuals with the girls around the country while some are with the Ferns, and others are with the U-20s.
Here we go pic.twitter.com/DPkeoV8jxF
— Gareth Turnbull (@gturnbull12) May 30, 2016
It won’t be until the Football Ferns head off to the Olympics in late July that they start to centralise their programme. Turnbull is confident they have a reasonably comprehensive plan in place and that his girls are tracking well for the event.
The hardest thing has been keeping the girls focused on the longer term, that the FIFA U-17 World Cup is a stepping stone in their footballing careers.
“We have been painting the picture that the World Cup is such a small moment in their footballing history that it is not all about the U-17 World Cup,” he said.
“But the closer we get to it, staff included, everyone is starting to think about it a little bit more. We have recently trimmed the group to 25 players and it is one step closer for those girls to make the World Cup. It is a wonderful event and not every player gets to be part of it so everyone knows they are privileged to be in this position.”
FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2016 Fact Box
When: September 30 – October 21
Group A: Jordan, Spain, Mexico, New Zealand
Group B: Venezuela, Germany, Cameroon, Canada
Group C: Nigeria, Brazil, England, Korea DPR
Group D: USA, Paraguay, Ghana, Japan