Facing one of the tougher groups in the 24 team tournament the Young All Whites kick off their campaign against Uruguay on October 17 in Ras Al-Khaimah, meet Italy in the same Arab Sheikdom three days later before travelling to the capital Abu Dhabi to face Côte d’Ivoire in their final Group B game on October 23.
But Bazeley who was assistant coach to the two previous New Zealand U-17 teams, both of whom progressed to the knockout stages, said this group of talented teenagers is relishing the challenge of a hat trick.
“Having progressed into the second round at the last two U-17 World Cups there’s a bit of pressure on this team to do the same,” said Bazeley, “but this group of players is determined to match or surpass that feat.
“They are definitely good enough so it’ll be up to how we perform on the day against some very strong nations and sometimes you need a few things to go your way.”
Boasting four players – Matthew Ridenton, Monty Patterson, Adam Mitchell and Stuart Holthusen – in the squad who played for New Zealand ‘A’ against the Wellington Phoenix recently, and new professional Alex Rufer who lined up against them, Bazeley is happy with the quality throughout his squad.
“Elijah Neblett would’ve been in that ‘A’ squad as well if he wasn’t injured, and we’ve also had players spend time with the Wellington Phoenix either training or trialling and doing well.
“So as an age group it’s quite an experienced squad and I think when they get on the world stage they’ll be confident.”
Bazeley also suggested their approach towards big name opposition was based on respect rather than fear.
“On paper, Uruguay, Italy, and Ivory Coast are all big footballing nations but sometimes the playing field can be more level at age-group level.
“New Zealand have punched above its weight at age-group tournaments and maybe that’s because we’ve been able to train together as a squad longer than other countries.”
The New Zealand squad departs on October 8 with warm-up matches a possibility upon arrival in Dubai.
The FIFA U-17 World Cup, which runs from October 17 to November 8, features six pools of four teams with the top two from each group along with the four best third place teams qualifying for the Round of 16.
Nigeria and Brazil are the most successful nations at this level with three titles each followed by Mexico and Ghana with two wins apiece.
New Zealand U-17 Squad for FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013
1– Zac SPEEDY (Three Kings United)
12–Oliver SAIL (Central United)
21–Sam COPP (Forrest Hill Milford United)
2– Riley KELLIHER (Island Bay United)
3–Cory BROWN (Island Bay United)
4–Nick FORRESTER (Unattached)
5–Adam MITCHELL (Central United)
13–Spiros AGATHOS (Sydney United 58 FC, AUS)
16–Tamupiwa DIMAIRO (Unattached)
6–Alex PALEZEVIC (Island Bay United)
7–Alex RUFER (Wellington Phoenix)
8–Michael DEN HEIJER (Onehunga Sports)
10–Matthew RIDENTON (Central United)
15–Andre DE JONG (Ellerslie)
17–Nick SUGDEN (Onehunga Sports)
18–Andrew BLAKE (Unattached)
20–Clayton LEWIS (Wellington Olympic)
9–Elijah NEBLETT (Birkenhead United)
11–Monty PATTERSON (Eastern Suburbs)
14–Stuart HOLTHUSEN (Onehunga Sports)
19–Judd BAKER (East Coast Bays)
New Zealand Schedule
New Zealand v Uruguay
Ras Al-Khaimah
October 17, 5pm (2am, October 18 NZT)
New Zealand v Italy
Ras Al-Khaimah
October 20, 8pm (5am, October 21 NZT)
New Zealand v Côte d’Ivoire
Abu Dhabi
October 23, 5pm (2am, October 24 NZT)
Story courtesy of New Zealand Football
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