The U17 World Cup gets underway on Friday with New Zealand taking on Turkey at the DY Patil stadium in Navi Mumbai alongside Colombia vs. Ghana at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in New Delhi, both kicking off at 17:00 IST.
The head coach of the U17 New Zealand national team Danny Hay has stressed the importance of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) giants' practice games in India ahead of the final competition.
"The practice matches (versus Brazil and England in Mumbai) were huge for us. I think we found a lot about ourselves, we found out strengths and weaknesses in terms of our structure and gameplan," he said.
"No disrespect to OFC qualification, but the level of competition and players that we have come up against, (on being compared) to these two build-up matches, the level was very, very huge. So, it was a massive learning curve for the team.
"If you look at the record of FIFA events which New Zealand team has been involved in, the first game has always been a struggle because we simply do not get the opportunity often enough to play against world-class opposition."
Hay has admitted that the quality of their Turkish counterparts is far better but maintains that the result will be decided on his side's performance.
"If you look at some of the odds that betting agencies out there have put up, we have got no chance to beat Turkey. We have watched a lot of footage of them and their (Turkey's) qualification campaign in the UEFA Euro U17 Championship. We are just preparing ‘us’ and just making sure that our performance is good," the coach mentioned.
The 42-year-old also commented on the playing field at Mumbai and hopes that the conditions are favourable for his boys to do well.
"The pitch is slightly different to what both teams have played on. With cricket pitches you feel it is quite firm through the middle area and softer out-wide. However, the players had 45 minutes on the pitch yesterday, so they have got a feel of it. The reality is that the surface is very, very good and it won’t affect the game. Hopefully, the conditions are favourable and not too hot," he signed out.