NZ announce squad for U-17 WC, coach says his side has quality
New Delhi, Sep 21 (PTI) New Zealand today announced a 21 -member FIFA Under-17 World Cup squad a day ahead of their departure for India.
Head coach Danny Hay, a former New Zealand international, said he named a squad with a plenty of character and quality.
The team will arrive in Mumbai tomorrow. New Zealand are placed in Group B along with Paraguay, Mali and Turkey.
They play their first two group matches against Turkey (on October 6) and Paraguay (October 9) at D Y Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai before flying to New Delhi to play their third game against Mali on October 12.
"I have been impressed by the squad's character both in our qualifiers and in our training camps as we build towards this tournament," said Hay, who played 31 internationals for New Zealand.
"The message is clear to all of these young lads; playing for New Zealand is not a right, it is a privilege. It is something you have to earn and work hard for," he said.
"The U-17s are the first cab off the rank in international football so this group of players is very excited about going to a World Cup and seeing what they can do. We have a very balanced squad."
Selecting this FIFA World Cup squad has been a two-year process for Hay and his assistant coaches, former All Whites Chris Zorocich and Jason Batty.
Hay said he's happy with his team's build-up for the tournament which has included a short training camp for fitness and conditioning testing in Auckland and a warm-up match against Auckland City FC which they won 4-1.
"We know that Mali, like most African nations, will be very strong in the U-17 and U-20 national teams. We think they have a chance of winning the title so it will be great going up against one of the favourites.
"Paraguay lost only one game from 12 in qualifying for this event and Turkey were also very impressive in their qualifying only losing to England and Spain, the two top teams. It is going to be difficult but we are all really looking forward to the challenge," said the coach.
The New Zealand U-17 side will look to replicate the feats of the NZ team at the tournament two years ago in Chile where they defeated Parauguay 2-1 in their final game to make the Round of 16. They lost in the play-off stages to Brazil (1-0) but showed huge promise on the world stage.
New Zealand U-17 Squad:
Goalkeepers: Jacob Clark, Zac Jones, Nicholas Milner.
Defenders: Liberato Cacace, Boyd Curry, Ben Deeley, Matthew Jones, Joshua Rogerson, Jordan Spain, Emlyn Wellsmore.
Midfielders: Willem Ebbinge, Elijah Just, Oliver Duncan, Kieran Richards, Kingsley Sinclair, Oliver Whyte, Leon Van Den Hoven.
Forwards: Matthew Conroy, Charles Spragg, Matthew Palmer, Max Mata