Following this week’s draw for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, New Zealand captain Clayton Lewis is looking forward to making his second appearance at a FIFA U-20 tournament in Korea Republic.
Currently in lightening form for Auckland City FC as they look to confirm their place in the OFC Champions League semi-final, the 20-year-old believes his side has been drawn alongside some tough opponents in France, Vietnam and Honduras.
“I honestly think it’s a tough group because we’ve got the European champions and I will definitely have to step up for our game but I’m happy with the draw,” he said.
Champions in 2013, France then missed out on the trip to New Zealand to defend their title at the 2015 edition of the World Cup.
Having conquered Europe’s qualifier to earn their eighth UEFA U-19 Championship title, France will be a tough opponent of course, but Lewis is confident his team will improve on their performance from 2015.
“We’ve got punch of good players in New Zealand as well and we’ve been training hard and I’m confident we can go out and put in a good shift.”
However for now the youngster is concentrating on Saturday’s match with Auckland City and securing a spot in the OFC Champions League semi-finals.
“Malampa Revivors showed a lot of fight and hard work in their last two games, I’m hoping we win our last game but Malampa is a good team,” he said.
Not new to the OFC Champions League, Lewis considers this year’s tournament is unlike that of previous editions he has participated in with the home-and-away element of the semi-finals and final very appealing.
“This year’s tournament is a bit different to others in that the different groups are in different countries, and the level is high.
“Everyone deserves to be here.”
The All Whites youngster said it is a massive honour to be able to represent both his club and country.
“It’s a privilege to play for the New Zealand national and Auckland City teams, both have helped bring maturity to my football career,” he said.
“Most people say that playing football is so much pressure but honestly I don’t really consider the pressure.”
Playing a key role in the football community Lewis advises young players not to worry about their age but thinking positively and striving to achieve.
“Being 20 years old and playing with people a lot older, it just proves that anyone can play at any level that we’re not confined just to our age groups.
“Just go out and play the game,” he said.