New Zealand U-20 women’s coach Gareth Turnbull is looking forward to the challenge of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France in August.
The assistant coach of the Football Ferns was at the Rennes Opera House in Vannes today as New Zealand was drawn into Group A alongside hosts France, the Netherlands and Ghana in the tournament that will be staged from 5–24 August.
“It is a challenging group for sure,” said Turnbull. “But looking at the other groups there aren’t many where I would say that I wish I had that one.
“It is going to be a test but we will prepare well. We have two European teams which to be honest I didn’t really want with the strength of European football at the minute. We are excited with the challenge and playing the host nation is always exciting.”
Turnbull said playing France – the runners up from the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Papua New Guinea in 2016 – on their home turf on 8 August will be a good test for his side.
“They lost the European Finals [UEFA Women’s Under-19 Championship] in the last couple of minutes to Spain [3-2] a few months ago so they will hard to beat.
“Holland have just turned over the United States 6-0 in the U-18s so they have a lot of talent coming through as well. Both of those teams will be incredibly physical and technical so they will be tough. Ghana is somewhat of an unknown quantity. They always do well on the world stage. They have some flair players with a lot of athleticism and will pose a different problem for us.”
Turnbull said the region of Brittany in the North West of France is well-known for being the football-mad part of the country and should be a great hub for the tournament.
“We are excited to come back here in the summer and have some French crazies get in behind the tournament,” he said.
🌍 OFFICIAL // OFFICIEL 🇫🇷
Here are the 4⃣ #U20WWC France 2018 groups!
Voilà les 4⃣ groupes de la Coupe du Monde Féminine U-20 France 2018 !#DareToShine #LeMomentDeBriller #WomensDay #IWD2018 pic.twitter.com/ZgQGP31on1
— #FIFAWWC 🇫🇷 (@FIFAWWC) March 8, 2018
New Zealand are in Group A which is based in the main centre and their first two pool games will be in the Main Stadium – Stade de la Rabine in Vannes – where the semi-final and final will be staged.
Turnbull said he could sense the excitement levels are already starting to build in France as they count down to hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019.
“The country is starting to talk about hosting that event now – 18 months out. For us, players and staff included, we want to think about it as our own event. The FIFA U-20 World Cup is special in itself, but on the other hand it is an opportunity for some of our more talented youngsters to stake a claim. If they do well here in the summer, then we should be looking at them very closely for the senior team for 2019.”
He said the one of the positives about the New Zealand U-20 group is the vast majority will have played in a FIFA Women’s Age Group World Cup and most will have experienced a win.
“France didn’t qualify for Jordan [FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2016] and the Dutch girls haven’t played in an age group World Cup. We’ll be trying to use some of that experience to our advantage.”
FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Draw:
FIFA U-20 World Cup – New Zealand’s fixtures in GROUP A
New Zealand v Netherlands
Stade de la Rabine, Vannes
New Zealand v France
Stade de la Rabine, Vannes
New Zealand v Ghana
Stade Guy-Piriou, Concarneau
FIFA Chief of Women’s Football Sarai Bareman, former OFC Deputy General Secretary, helped conduct the draw.