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FIFA U-17 World Cup: New Zealand land early with weather concerns on mind

New Zealand boasts of average temperatures of between 10 to 20 degrees Celsius in the winter. The current temperature in Mumbai is at least 15 degrees higher, leading them to arrive in India for the FIFA U-17 World Cup two weeks before the tournament begins.

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Sep 24, 2017 20:26 IST
Sarthak Bal
Sarthak Bal
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
FIFA U-17 World Cup,FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017,New Zealand football team
New Zealand’s U-17 team arrive in India as Oceania champions. (FIFA)

Danny Hay, New Zealand’s under-17 team coach, attributes his squad’s early arrival in India for the Fifa U-17 World Cup to the weather conditions, which he believes will also act as a deterrent to other participants too.

The New Zealand team reached here on September 22, a full two weeks ahead of the World Cup — Hay acknowledging the role of the stark differences in temperature.

New Zealand, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, boasts of average temperatures of between 10 to 20 degrees Celsius in the winter; and the current temperature in Mumbai is at least 15 degrees higher.

“We know that we are going to have to take some time to acclimatize to it and that’s the reality of it. The heat and humidity is going to be affective, but it’s going to be like that for all the teams if I’m being honest,” said Hay.

New Zealand qualified for the World Cup on the back of their continental (Oceania Football Confederation) title in Tahiti earlier this year. Tahiti’s weather, in terms of humidity, is somewhat similar to India’s. And the Kiwi’s dominance in Tahiti, that saw them win all five matches, gives Hay’s side some added impetus.

“We had a qualifying campaign in Tahiti, which had similar conditions to here – high heat and humidity. We have proven that we can perform in those conditions but of course this is the World Cup and the quality of players we are going up against is a major factor,” revealed the former All Whites skipper.

Hay also revealed that the other major reason for their early arrival was to make sure that his team got enough time to train together.

“The other thing is simply to get our players together and try and give them a couple of good quality games under their belt. Because the reality is that probably compared to some of the other nations coming into the tournament, we don’t get to see our players as often,” said Hay as his team gears up to take on Brazil, on September 28, and England, on October 1, in two warm-up matches.

“Geographically, it’s difficult and expensive to bring the players together. We don’t have a national base or academy as such. So the opportunity to bring players together is something we relish,” he added.

First Published: Sep 24, 2017 20:09 IST