For the very first time in history, India is all set to host the FIFA U-17 World Cup which will commence from October 6. A total of 24 countries from 6 confederations will participate in this tournament. The World Cup will be hosted in six cities across the country and final will be played at the famous Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.
Today we take a look at the Oceania Football Confederation giants New Zealand and guide you through their journey to the world cup, highlighting their achievements, key players, coach and much more.
Country: New Zealand
Confederation: OFC (Oceania Football Confederation)
Nicknames: All Whites
Coach: Danny Hay
PAST RECORDS AND LAURELS
This is the eighth time that New Zealand will take part in the FIFA U-17 World Cup. They made their debut in 1997 and in the following edition, they got an opportunity to host the tournament. In 2009, for the first time in history, an All Whites side reached the knockout stage of a FIFA tournament. They repeated the feat in the 2011 World Cup and in the last edition in Chile, they were knocked out by giants Brazil from the round of 16.
New Zealand have won the OFC Championship 7 times. They had won it for the first time in 1997. After Australia’s departure from the confederation, the Championship has been thoroughly dominated by the All Whites. From 2007 to 2017, they have won the competition six consecutive times.
ROAD TO U-17 WORLD CUP
New Zealand earned their place in this year U-17 World Cup by winning the OFC Championship 2017 for the sixth consecutive time. The All Whites emerged victorious in all the five matches they played. They were placed in Group B alongside Solomon Islands, Fiji and co-hosts Samoa.
After securing full nine points from the group stage they had to face a stiff challenge from Papua New Guinea. They procured a hard fought 2-1 victory in the semis and reached the final where it was a cakewalk.
New Zealand had thrashed New Caledonia 7-0 to book their berth in the World Cup. They had scored 17 goals in the 5 games they played including an 11-0 scoreline against Samoa.
PREPARATIONS AHEAD OF THE MEGA-EVENT
The New Zealand side won the OFC U-17 Championship in February this year. Since then they have not played any competitive football match. They had assembled for a training camp in Auckland in July. As their coach Danny Hay mentioned, the team is yet to face a quality opposition ahead of the world.
During the World Cup draw, Hay speaking to New Zealand Football’s official website said, “These guys have the chance to go to a World Cup. These sorts of opportunities are few and far between for young New Zealand players. We don’t get to experience true international football and playing against world-class opposition too often and we have a group of top young men who are outstanding characters so we are looking forward to getting them up there to see what they can achieve.”
The All Whites are currently training under Coach Danny Hay who has been managing this side since 2015. He was in charge of the side during the U-17 World Cup in Chile as well where the team performed brilliantly but were unfortunately ousted from the round of 16 by Brazil. 42-year-old Hay represented the All Whites national team in 31 matches as a central defender and his first coaching assignment was the New Zealand U-17 side. During his playing days, his most prominent stint was with famous English side Leeds United from 1999-02.
He went on to score seven goals in the tournament in five matches including a goal against New Caledonia in the final. Spragg is currently playing for the youth team of New Zealand Football Championship side Eastern Suburbs AFC.
Goalkeepers: Jacob Clark, Zac Jones, Nicholas Milner.
Defenders: Liberato Cacace, Boyd Curry, Ben Deeley, Matthew Jones, Joshua Rogerson, Jordan Spain, Emlyn Wellsmore.
Midfielders: Willem Ebbinge, Elijah Just, Oliver Duncan, Kieran Richards, Kingsley Sinclair, Oliver Whyte, Leon Van Den Hoven.
Forwards: Matthew Conroy, Charles Spragg, Matthew Palmer, Max Mata.