New Zealand U17 World Cup preview

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Under highly regarded Auckland City coach, José Figueira, the New Zealand U17 side is looking to finally advance past the round of 16 at this year’s World Cup.

The Kiwis qualified for the tournament after making the final of last years OFC U16 Championship alongside hosts the Solomon Islands.

They put the cherry on top by beating Solomon’s in a penalty shootout – a shootout which saw the Young All Whites win the competition.

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Their path to qualification wasn’t smooth, however, with the same Solomon team beating the Kiwis 5-0 in the group stage – although the All Whites would get their revenge where it mattered, in the final.

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Sixteen of the players that took part in the qualifiers are in Figueira’s World Cup squad, meaning it is essentially the same side.

They are likely to be captained by Eastern Suburbs defender Campbell Strong, who led the Young All Whites side in the qualifiers.

The Kiwis are in Group A and will have a fight on their hands to get out of their group.

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They’re up against 2017 finalists and host’s Brazil, Canada and Angola, who will be making their debut in the competition and are hence a complete unknown.

NZ’s best results in the past have been a round of 16 elimination on three occasions; in 2009, 2011, and 2015. This will be their tenth appearance at the tournament.

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New Zealand’s youngsters have had some mixed results in the lead up to qualifying, with some varying returns in the Panda Cup – a youth tournament held in China.

They beat the host’s 2-0 but then lost 4-0 and 1-0 to South Korea and Thailand respectively. However, it’s worth noting that South Korea, Thailand, and China were all fielding U18 teams.

More recent results have been concerning as the team lost 2-0 to Mexico’s U17s, as well as being slaughtered 7-1 by Argentina U17s.

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With a tough group and some mixed recent results, it’s anyone guess to how the Kiwis will perform at the World Cup.

NZ kick off their tournament against Angola on October 27.

Game times

NZ vs Angola 8pm local – 12pm NZT Sunday, 27 October

NZ vs Brazil  8pm local – 12pm NZT Wednesday, 30 October

NZ vs Canada 8pm local – 12pm NZT Saturday, 2 November

Featured credit image: Daniel McGookin

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Dan Moskovitz
Dan Moskovitz
The Football Sack's resident teen kiwi football nut. Loves everything football except defeats.

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