FIFA U17 World Cup 2017: New Zealand coach talks up Mumbai weather and Brazil's short players
For New Zealand, the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup presents a unique opportunity. The Oceanian behemoth has a population of 4.7 million. On Thursday, its U-17 national team players were up against a nation whose population stands at 208 million.
Set aside these numbers, the odds are still heavily stacked against the Young Whites. They locked horns with Brazil as part of their preparatory camp.
The South American outfit emerged 2-1 winners on the night although they could have easily added another couple to the scorecard. New Zealand coach, Danny Hay put things into perspective.
"The whole point of playing this game against Brazil is to learn, we learnt a heck of a lot from this. The opportunity for New Zealand to play against such opponents is few and far between. This is our first game in two years against a world-class team," he stated.
Slotted alongside Paraguay, African giants Mali and dark horse Turkey in Group B, it's safe to say New Zealand aren't one of the favourites to qualify from this group.
The temperature in Mumbai hovered around 30 degrees Celsius. Taking into account the city's standards, Thursday wasn't too unpleasant for the locals. But it definitely got the better of the New Zealanders and the coach admitted that playing in such taxing conditions requires one to be mentally strong.
"It's about mentally overcoming it, we are fit enough. It's about getting acclimatized to the heat and humidity. But it's more mental than anything because we have put in the work," he said.
Despite the loss, Hay wasn't too bogged down by the result. He reckons his boys put in the work and played some decent football. However, he did admit that they need to be more ruthless in the final third.
"Brazil are obviously a very good team, we were chasing the game mostly. But we limited them to not creating open chances plus we had some good chances ourselves. We need to be a little more clinical," he said.
The coach took some time out to compare the gulf in class despite which the Whites did trouble Brazil at regular intervals. Brazil coach Carlos Amadeu fielded multiple diminutive players in the starting eleven who bossed the middle of the park, chief among them being their number 10, Alan - Brazil's first choice attacking midfielder.
The first half was an even contest with both sides creating some decent opportunities, however, the Samba boys put distance between them and their opponents in the second half. All three goals in the match were scored in the second half.
"Brazil is synonymous with football, they produce world class players who get bought by the big clubs for ridiculous sums of money. New Zealand have just local players so playing against them has been a good experience."
"Their height took me by surprise, I thought Brazil had big players. Their quality on the ball was something to behold," he signed off.