FIFA U-17 World Cup: New Zealand target maiden knockout stage appearance
New Zealand have taken part in eight FIFA U-17 World Cup tournaments but they have never gone past the group stages.fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Sep 30, 2017 15:32 IST
By far Group B’s most successful team in terms of participation, New Zealand will make their eighth appearance in India, also their sixth in succession. They made their debut back in 1997 when Egypt hosted the global championship. Two years later New Zealand made history by hosting the tournament themselves; becoming the first to do so aside from Fifa events hosted by Australia, a former OFC member. In 2007 (South Korea) too they could not make it beyond the group stages but at the 2009 World Cup hosted by Nigeria, New Zealand progressed to the knockout stage of a Fifa tournament for the first time and repeated the feat in 2011 at Mexico. At United Arab Emirates in 2013 they made a first round exit once again; losing out to Brazil in the Round of 16 at Chile 2015. After Australia’s exit from the OFC in 2006, New Zealand have dominated their continental championship, winning the OFC Under 17 Championship six times in succession from 2007 to 2017.
KNOW THE COACH
Danny Hay took charge of the New Zealand U-17 side in April 2015, shortly after the qualifying tournament to the 2015 U-17 World Cup in Chile. He led them to the knockout stage finish two years ago. This will be the second consecutive Fifa U-17 World Cup for Hay-- also a former Kiwi international. He has represented the senior team on several occasions including the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup where he captained the Kiwis.
PAST PERFORMANCE: Round of 16: 2009, 2011, 2015. Group stage: 1997, 99, 2007, 2013. Did not qualify: 1985-1995, 2001, 2003. Withdrew: 2005.
PASSAGE TO INDIA: New Zealand’s capture of their sixth consecutive OFC U-17 Championship in 2017 was enough grant them a spot in India.
Results in OFC U-17 Championship : Beat Samao 11-0, beat Solomon Islands 2-1, beat Fiji 5-0, beat Papua New Guinea 2-1 (SF), beat New Caledonia 7-0 in the final
Name: Charles Spragg
Club: Eastern Suburbs AFC
Why he is special: The teen Kiwi striker finished the OFC U-17 Championship as the top-scorer with seven goals and also took home the best player of the tournament accolade. He found the net in all games barring the semifinal against New Guinea.
Name: Zac Jones
Club: Wellington Olympic
Why he is special: The Kiwi custodian conceded only two goals in New Zealand’s continental triumph and was also adjudged best goalkeeper in the championship.
Name: Max Mata
Club: Onehunga Sports
Why he is special: Mata got four goals to his name in the Kiwi’s seventh continental title earlier this year, netting twice in the final.