New Zealand U-17 Men’s Head Coach José Figueira is pleased with the squad he has named for the FIFA U-17 World Cup next month in Brazil.
The OFC Champions, who defeated the Solomon Islands in the OFC U-16 Championship Final on penalties in September last year to book their place in the World Cup, will take on the hosts Brazil, Canada and Angola in the tournament that will be staged from 26 October to 17 November.
Figueira, who is heading to his first FIFA World Cup with a national age group team, is excited about the challenge in Brazil with a talented group of young men.
“I’m really excited about this group of players,” said Figueira. “This squad is a culmination of a big 18 plus months where we have identified players in what is a really strong age group across the country.
“It is exciting for New Zealand Football that we have a great group of young players coming through, and assembling this 21-man squad to take on some of the best teams from around the world is an exciting challenge for us. Now the focus and the preparations go up another notch as we count down to us departing.”
Figueira has selected 16 of the 20 players who earned the team qualification last year at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara. There are also 16 players from NZ team that travelled to China and claimed a bronze medal in the invitational Panda Cup, where they opened the tournament with an impressive 2-0 win over the Chinese People’s Republic U-18 side in Chengdu.
“There is a core of the group who have been there since the beginning of the cycle and what you find in this age group is you get boys that pop up on the scene, develop at different times, but was is exciting is and all of those players are in a really good space in their football. It is good to have that core but I’m also excited about the ones who have come on the scene in the past five to six months. We have a great blend and balance to this squad.”
The squad includes nine players from the Wellington Phoenix Academy (Lower Hutt City) and five players from the Ole Academy (Western Suburbs). There are seven players from Scots College in Wellington.
Figueira recently travelled Brasília for the FIFA U-17 World Cup Workshop. He said it was great to see the facilities and get familiar with their group stage home at Bezerrão Stadium.
New Zealand will begin their FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign against debutants Angola, before taking on hosts Brazil second and Canada in their final pool game.
New Zealand has made the Round of the 16 of the FIFA U-17 World Cup on three occasions (2009, 2011 and 2015) but failed to advance at the last event staged in India in 2017.
“First and foremost the goal for this group is to go over to Brazil and play the way we want to play, to trust in our processes and that style will naturally dovetail into results. I am confident that if we can go there and show who we are, and play with real bravery and a good attitude - that I know we can, then there is no reason why we cannot aim to get out of the group. Our first focus however is on game one against Angola which is only weeks’ away now.”
New Zealand squad for the FIFA U-17 World Cup (Club / School) Alexander Paulsen (Lower Hutt City / Scots College) Finn O'Connor (Lower Hutt City / Scots College)Harry Bark (Lower Hutt City / Scots College)Campbell Strong (Eastern Suburbs / Sacred Heart College)Jackson Simpkin (Brisbane City / Anglican Church Grammar School) Adam Hillis (Lower Hutt City / Scots College)Keegan Jelacic (Queensland Lions / Kimberly College)Henry Hamilton (Lower Hutt City / Wellington College)Jesse Randall (North Wellington / Rongotai College)Matthew Garbett (Western Suburbs / Wellington College)Nathan Lobo (Birkenhead United / Liston College)Kris Naicker (Lower Hutt City / Scots College)Luca Taylor (Birkenhead United / Mount Albert Grammar)Oskar van Hattum (Lower Hutt City / NZIS)Bradley Wilson (Western Springs / St Peters College Auckland)Max Drake (Lower Hutt City / Scots College)Benjamin Old (Lower Hutt City / Scots College)Sean Bright (Western Suburbs / Tawa College)Marko Stamenic (Western Suburbs / St Patricks College, Silverstream) Otto Ingham (Western Suburbs / Tawa College)Callum Kennett (Lower Hutt City / Palmerston North Boys)
FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 201926 October New Zealand v AngolaEstádio Bezerrão, GamaKick-off: 8pm local time
29 OctoberBrazil v New ZealandEstádio Bezerrão, GamaKick-off: 8pm local time
1 November Canada v New ZealandEstádio Bezerrão, GamaKick-off: 8pm local time
Article added: Monday 23 September 2019