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New Zealand skipper Max Mata cautious but confident ahead of FIFA U-17 World Cup

New Zealand skipper Max Mata believes that their goal-scoring power will be a huge asset in the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup.

football Updated: Sep 26, 2017 09:01 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
FIFA U-17 World Cup,FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017,New Zealand football team
Max Mata will be captaining the New Zealand side at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup.(Twitter)

New Zealand’s U-17 football team is set to take on Brazil and England in two warm up matches leading to the FIFA U-17 World Cup and skipper Max Mata says that the friendlies will be the perfect opportunity for the Kiwis to iron out any shortcomings before the tournament.

“For us, getting an opportunity to play against Brazil and England is going to be an awesome experience. It will help us tweak the areas that need strengthening. The harsh reality for us is that this is going to be the opposition we will play when it counts. We wanted to go up against a team that would really test us because that is when a true show every individual and the team’s character come to the front,” Mata said.

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New Zealand will play Brazil on September 28 and England on October 1 at the Mumbai Football Arena in Andheri. In the last edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile, Brazil had edged past New Zealand by a goal in their Round of 16 encounter.

Mata, who scored four of New Zealand’s 27 goals in their title winning charge at the 2017 OFC Championships earlier this year, doesn’t except goal-scoring opportunities to present themselves as easily in the World Cup.

“Our goal-scoring abilities are a positive for us. We are planning to continue that, but don’t expect the same outcome in the World Cup. But when we do get our chances, we will finish them,” Mata added.

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Danny Hay, the team’s coach was also in charge of the Kiwi’s U-17 side two years ago in Chile and Mata is relying on his experience to carry them forward in India.

“We have full trust in what Danny says and that is the best thing for us. He has seen this (World Cup competition) before, was in middle of it and in the tough situations. We can trust him 100 per cent and that is exactly what we have done,” Mata said about his coach.

“New Zealand is starting to get more football-minded. We have the best coaching staff. Danny Hay, ex All-Whites captain, is head coach. Two former captains, Chris Zorocick and Jason Batty are assistant coach and goalkeeping coach. The preparations are getting better and better. We are picking up things each time, so that we can get even better,” Mata ended.

First Published: Sep 26, 2017 09:01 IST