The New Zealand U-17 national team has begun its final preparations for the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup by pushing Brazil all the way in a 2-1 friendly loss.
The Kiwis were the first nation to arrive in India – which is hosting a major international football tournament for the first time – and matches against two top-class teams were lined up to ensure they’ll be ready when the action kicks off on 6 October.
After competing well against the South American giants overnight, Danny Hay’s side will next face their counterparts from England on Sunday.
They will take some degree of confidence into that challenge after holding their own against a typically classy Brazil outfit, only being outdone thanks to a double from dangerous striker Brenner at the Mumbai Football Arena.
New Zealand captain Max Mata got his side on the scoresheet late on after tucking away a penalty.
The ‘Samba Boys’ were without talisman Vinicius Junior, who is not entering the camp until Saturday, and were nearly caught out early on as New Zealand came close to opening the scoring. Forward Charles Spragg found himself with a good opportunity in front of goal but was unable to convert and there were few other chances for the Kiwis in the remainder of the half.
Brazil flexed their muscles when Marcos Antonio fizzed a shot over the bar from just outside the area and New Zealand goalkeeper Jacob Clark was called on soon after to deny Brenner with a good save from a free kick.
In the second spell, Brazil exhibited their strength in depth by making a raft of changes and they had the desired effect for coach Carlos Amadeu. Just a few minutes after the restart, Brenner had his first with a powerful left-foot strike that flew into the bottom corner and it wasn’t long before he had another, this time finishing with his right foot at the near post.
The Brazilians went on to dominate the possession stakes but New Zealand finally earned some reward for their endeavour when former Wellington Phoenix youngster Mata was brought down in the box by Lucas Halter and got back up to calmly slot home the spot kick.
Although Brazil had done enough to claim the win, the two sides then engaged in a penalty shoot-out to ready themselves for that scenario arising in the knockout stages of the World Cup. The South Americans also triumphed from the spot, keeping their composure to win 5-4.
Hay was pleased to have given his players a hit out against such accomplished opposition.
“Brazil are a world-class side and have players who will make it to a big level,” he said.
The thoughts of Hay will now turn to facing England on Sunday before leading New Zealand into Group B of the FIFA U-17 World Cup against Turkey on 6 October (local time).
Story courtesy of New Zealand Football