After a promising draw against Costa Rica on Monday, the heat goes on the Young All Whites in more ways than one as a victory over the Africans in mid afternoon Enugu heat and humidity will almost certainly earn them a place in the second round – a first for a New Zealand team at a FIFA event.
But victory over an African team on their home continent would be another first, and New Zealand coach Steve Cain is weary of a side wounded after a 0-1 loss to Turkey on Monday morning.
“It’s shaping as a mini final this one as both teams will be looking for three points to get some sort of foothold in the final 16,” Cain said.
“We’ve never beaten an African team in Africa and playing at four o’clock in 30 degree temperatures and 95 per cent humidity so it’ll be difficult but these are the things we have to deal with.”
Thunder storms are scheduled for the region on match day but the Young All Whites are brimming with a quiet belief that they can produce another lightning strike after leading the Costa Ricans early in their Group D opener.
“We have to back ourselves heading into this game and if we can repeat the defensive effort from the Costa Rica match and can be a bit more sensible and positive with the ball at our feet then we can get something out of this game.”
Recovery has been the focus in the immediate 24 hours of a match that saw New Zealand lose three players to cramp in the stifling conditions. Birkenhead midfielder Jack Hobson-McVeigh returns from a suspension he picked up in qualifying to give Cain the option of fresh in midfield, although the performance of Jamie Doris, Cameron Lindsay and the combative Zane Sole may prompt a retention of the status quo.
While Nigerian and Ghanaian teams have dominated previous World Cups and the Burkinabe finished third in 2001, the current side remain somewhat of an unknown quantity for the Young All Whites although video analysis will go someway to removing that mystery.
But a brief glimpse of their opponents at the stadium hasn’t changed the New Zealand players’ view that they can rise to the challenge.
“From the 20 minutes of the match we saw before our game it was clear they press high and all over the pitch,” said New Zealand winger Thomas Spragg.
“While we need to treat them with respect there is not reason not to go into the game confident of causing an upset.”
October 25 – November 15
Group D
New Zealand vs. Burkina Faso
October 29
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, 10-Zane SOLE, 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).
Coach: Steve CAIN (ENG)
Burkina Faso: 1-Germain SANOU (GK), 2-Adama HAIKI, 3-Mouhamed OUATTARA, 4-Delwende YANOGO, 5-Ibrahim BARRY, 6-Ismael ZAGRE, 7-Louckmane OUEDRAOGO, 8-Victor NIKIEMA, 9-Abdoulaye IBRANGO, 10-Fadil SIDO, 11-Abdoul NIKIEMA, 12-Zidane ZOUNGRANA, 13-Moussa DAO, 14-Dalhata SORO, 15-Ousmane DERRA, 16-Lassane NIKKIEMA (GK), 17-Bertrand TRAORE, 18-Farouck KABORE, 19-Aboubacar TRAORE, 20-Patrick MALO, 21-Abdouraziz GUIRE (GK)
Coach: Rainer WILLFELD (GER)
FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009 – New Zealand results/fixtures
October 25 – November 15
October 26
New Zealand 1 (Michael BUILT 18)
Costa Rica 1 (Joel CAMPBELL 35)
October 29
New Zealand v Burkina Faso
November 1
New Zealand v Turkey
Group D Standings visit