U-17s show promise in England loss

The New Zealand squad has completed its final preparations for the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup in promising fashion, twice taking the lead against European giants England before eventually falling to a 3-2 defeat.

Having arrived in India early to acclimatise to the hot weather after a long New Zealand winter, the match against England proved to be a worthy test after an impressive performance against a strong Brazil side in a slim 2-1 defeat.

New Zealand were looking for another pleasing outing before taking on Turkey in their first match of Group B on Saturday morning (NZT).

Danny Hay’s side showed signs of their quality, twice taking the lead against a well-drilled and highly-skilled England outfit.

Willem Ebbinge’s pass played Oliver Whyte into a favourable position 20 yards out, from where his strike was placed into the top right corner to open the scoring in spectacular fashion.

Moments later, England equalised when skipper Marc Guehi netted from a corner but both sides missed chances to take the lead before the break and headed into the changing rooms level.

New Zealand gained the advantage once more in the second half when Elijah Just dispossessed Emile Smith-Rowe and scored to put his team 2-1 up.

But a double from substitute Rhian Brewster turned the match in England’s favour as it ended 3-2.

After pushing Brazil so close a couple of days earlier, Hay’s young charges have now performed strongly against a pair of top-class teams in their World Cup preparations, boding well for when their campaign kicks off this weekend.

Hay is pleased with how the build-up has gone and believes the experience will stand his players in good stead.

“We gave a good account of ourselves today and could have pulled off a draw,” he said.

“I’m really pleased that we have a good bunch of quality young men in the squad and I’m really excited about the tournament.”

In addition to the support provided by New Zealand Football, the squad was financially assisted in travelling to India early for its pre-tournament preparations by the New Zealand Football Foundation. The foundation’s CEO, former All White Noel Barkley, is pleased to be backing such an exciting group of players.

“I had heard from the coaches and others around the county just how good this group were,” he said.

“I watched them beat Birkenhead United 6-0 and they also beat Onehunga Sports 3-0 so, when 16-year-olds can beat two of the best men’s team in New Zealand, you know something special is happening. Helping them get more games for preparation was an easy decision for us and we really hope they get out of a very tough group as they are the future.”

U-17 International Friendly

New Zealand 2 (Oliver Whyte, Elijah Just)
England 3 (Marc Guehi, Rhian Brewster 2)
HT: 1-1

FIFA U-17 World Cup

New Zealand vs Turkey
Friday 6 October, 5.30pm (Saturday 7 October, 1am NZT)
Dr DY Patil Stadium, Mumbai
Live on SKY Sport

New Zealand vs Paraguay
Monday 9 October, 8pm (Tuesday 10 October, 3.30am NZT)
Dr DY Patil Stadium, Mumbai
Live on SKY Sport

New Zealand vs Mali
Thursday 12 October, 5pm (Friday 13 October, 12.30am NZT)
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi
Live on SKY Sport

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