Consecutive draws against Costa Rica and Burkina Faso have left New Zealand in second place in Group D needing a win over the Europeans to seal automatic qualification for the knockout phase of the competition.
A third draw may also be good enough to progress – as one of four best third-place finishes from the six groups, or in second place if Costa Rica and Burkina Faso draw – but New Zealand coach Steve Cain would prefer not to hand his team’s fate to other teams.
“The good thing about the results we’ve earned so far is that we’ve kept ourselves in the hunt and kept everything in our own hands,” Cain said.
“A draw may get us through but we can’t rely on that because we’d need to have results in our own and other groups go our way.
“An unbeaten record [with a third draw] would be a great achievement for a New Zealand team but it won’t feel like it if we’re on a plane home.
New Zealand will be without the suspended Zane Sole after the Waitakere United midfielder picked up a yellow card in each of the first two matches.
The list of suspension casualties is longer for Turkey with defenders Furkan Seker and Onur Karakabak and impressive midfielder Orhan Gulle all ruled out while defender Okan Alkan may also sit out due to the threat of missing the round of 16 if he picks up another caution.
Turkey’s top scorer Muhammet Demir, who also led the scoring race in European qualifying is in the same boat as Alkan with one booking to his name already. Turkish coach Abdullah Ercan may be tempted to rest his influential captain to ensure he has him at his disposal when the knockout stages begin.
Turkey wrapped up top spot with a resounding 4-1 win over Costa Rica on Friday – a day after freak storms saw the first attempt to play the match called off after 20 minutes – and New Zealand coach Steve Cain is expecting his side’s biggest test so far.
“Turkey have been one of the pacesetters in the tournament so far and they won’t want to lose any momentum heading into the second round.”
“Regardless of who they put out they will be a good team. No doubt about it. And regardless of who they put out we will back ourselves like we have all tournament.”
After Thursday’s energy-sapping match in Enugu, the Young All Whites travelled to Calabar on Friday where the focus was again on restoring players physically and mentally for Sunday’s match.
Kick-off is at 7am (NZT) with delayed coverage on Sky Sport 2 at 8.30am.
FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009
October 25 – November 15
Group D
November 1
New Zealand v Turkey
New Zealand: 1-Coey TURIPA (GK), 2-Matt GIBBONS, 3-Adam THOMAS, 4-Luis ESTEVEZ, 5- Gordon MURIE (captain), 6-Tim PILKINGTON, 7-Josh MORRISON, 8-Stephen KIBBY, 9-Nikolai MOLIJN, 11-Jack Hobson-MCVEIGH, 12-Tane GENT, 13-Michael BUILT, 14-Thomas SPRAGG, 15-Andrew MILNE, 16-Jamie DORIS, 17-Cameron LINDSAY, 18-Ashton PETT,19-Andrew BEVIN, 20-Alex CARR (GK), 21-Patrick GEORGE (GK).
Suspended: 10-Zane SOLE.
Coach: Steve CAIN (ENG)
Turkey: 1-Deniz MEHMET (GK), 2-Okan ALKAN, 3-Nurettin KAYAOGLU, 5-Ogulcan GOKCE, 7-Berkin ARSLAN, 8-Kamil COREKCI, 9-Muhammet DEMIR, 10-Engin BEKDEMIR, 11-Omer Ali SAHINER, 12-Sercan HACIOGLU (GK), 13-Sezer OZMEN, 14-Gokay IRAVUL, 15-Enes BAYKAN, 16-Suleyman OZDAMAR, 17-Gokay ISITAN, 18-Ufuk OZBEK, 20-Ahmet SARI, 21-Omer KAHVECI (GK)
Suspended: 4-Furkan SEKER, 6-Orhan GULLE, 19-Onur KARAKABAK.
Coach: Abdullah ERCAN (TUR)
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Story courtesy NZF Media
Photo courtesy Action Images