FIFA Under-17 World Cup 2017 Group B: Everything about Team New Zealand
With less than two months time remaining in the grand opening of the FIFA under-17 World Cup 2017 in October, India gears up to taste the diverse flavours that various continents have in store for the competition. But even before football sets on the pitch, we here at Lntup.com had been scrutinizing the performances given by several teams so far on their journey to the World Cup and what they seem to have up their sleeves for the entire football fraternity.
Today our centre of attention will be the under-17 National team of New Zealand who can prove to be a serious threat to the likes of Mali, Paraguay and Turkey in this group. Football in this country has taken off a little late, rugby and cricket being two of the most premier sports, yet in the last decade or so football has somewhat gained ground and the Kiwis have evolved as a nation willing to accept the sport and improve on it by leaps and bounds.
Relevant squad info and much more
Nickname: Young All Whites
Association: New Zealand Football
Confederation: OFC (Oceania)
Head Coach: Danny Hay
Skipper: Clayton Lewis
Most Caps: J. Matthews (20)
Highest Scorer: C. Barbarouses (16 goals)
FIFA Code: NZL
First International: versus New Caledonia (4-2 win in 1974)
Biggest Win: versus Papua New Guinea (16-0 in 1988)
FIFA World Cup record so far and their past laurels
India 2017 will mark New Zealand’s eighth participation in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, and their sixth in succession. This clearly emphasizes the fact that this is one tournament in which they have enjoyed a significant amount of success. Making their competition debut back in 1997 at Egypt and notably, this was also the country’s first ever venture in any sort of FIFA tournaments. Two years later they played hosts to this competition which was the first of its kind to be held in Oceania.
But it was only at Nigeria 2009 where New Zealand’s team was finally able to ruffle some feathers and raise some eyebrows as they sailed through to the knockout phase of the competition and therefore etching their names into the country’s football annals once and forever. They were the first Kiwi side to accomplish this feat in any FIFA recognised tournament and from there on the nation’s upsurge in football has been very impressive, to say the least. Mexico 2011 and Chile 2015(they lost to Brazil in the round of 16) are two instances which totally exemplifies the fact.
Road to India and brief description of their journey
New Zealand booked their berth to India by virtue of their sixth successive OFC U-17 Championship win which in itself is a stunning achievement, but the conquest of the title in Tahiti also had its fair share of drama as they had to go through gruelling encounters put forth by various oppositions. They topped their group with three consecutive wins but the knockout stages tasted quite a bit of their pedigree, hunger and zeal.
In a closely contested match against Papua New Guinea in the semifinal, New Zealand emerged victorious thanks to a late injury time winner which saw them through to their sixth successive final in this competition. However, in the final the story was completely different as they thrashed New Caledonia by a thumping 7-0 margin, toppling records one after another.
Head coach and his preferred style of display
Danny Hay, a New Zealander himself is heading towards his second back to back U-17 World Cup after having led them previously to the round of16 stages of Chile 2015. However, this will complete a full circle for him with this team since he was appointed in April 2015 after the conclusion of the qualifying tournament. This actually seems to be an added advantage since both the players and the coach feed of each other and exactly know what the other side expects.
Hay, a former national team centre-back himself had a glittering career which includes captaining his side in the 2003 Confederations Cup. A great admirer and a keen observer of modern day football, Hay considers the 4-2-3-1 as his go to formation and likes to inflict the European style of play into his side’s game. He and his coaching staff has worked tirelessly behind these Colts to get them up and running to where they stand right now.
Stars set to take the centre stage
Well, the New Zealand team did hit their stride in the qualifying campaign and goals galore for them as they scored as many as 27 in that five match winning streak and yet this includes two 1-0 victories. This abrupt scoring form can be a serious cause of concern for the other teams in this group. Their free flowing football is not only eye catching but also yields the end product which adds to the satisfaction of the coach and the management.
The likes of Willem Ebbinge, Charles Spragg, Matthew Palmer and Kingsley Sinclair can pile up the agony on their opponents with ridiculous ease and this mighty quartet have already shown glimpses of what they have in store for the forthcoming World Championship. The thumping wins against teams like Samoa (11-0), New Caledonia (7-0) and Papua New Guinea (6-1) speaks volume of the statement made by New Zealand coming to the competition and according to few trusted sources, this was a just a dress rehearsal before the main event kicks off.
Author’s stand on Team New Zealand
Thus based on the above information we can safely deduce that all the other participating nations would surely have their task cut out whenever they face the Young All Whites at whatever stage of the tournament. For New Zealand itself, however, the real challenge awaits when they take on the field on the evening of 9th of October against Paraguay at DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai.
The potential is definitely there for all to see but whether that will get translated into result yielding performances at the World stage still remains a valid question, one that has been looming large for quite a while now. Hopefully, answers will be delivered sooner rather than later.All the best Kiwis. Show your true mettle, prove your worth and claim your bragging rights.