New Zealand U-17 Men’s team are just a few days away from their opening FIFA World Cup match against tournament debutants Angola.
Drawn into group A alongside the third placed Africa U-17 Cup of Nations team as well as hosts Brazil and the 4th placed CONCACAF side Canada, the OFC champions will kick of their campaign on 27 August (NZT).
And despite ending their preparations with two defeats including a 2-0 loss to Mexico followed by a humbling 7-1 drubbing at the hands of South American powerhouse Argentina in their final pre-tournament hit out, coach José Figueira is satisfied with what has been achieved during his squad’s preparations.
“It was certainly tough, no one ever wants to lose by those amounts and it’s never nice,” he admitted.
“But to have that kind of test and feel that level and intensity is an invaluable experience.
“The level of intensity, speed of thought, aggression and passion that Argentina played with is something we don’t get to experience much back home,” he said.
Figueira is adamant that taking on a side of Argentina’s calibre was exactly what his players needed going into the tournament.
“Results aside, I think we’ve made some real progress, the result probably doesn’t reflect much progress but when you look at it objectively you can’t beat the game experience,” explained the New Zealand U-17 coach.
“To play Argentina in Buenos Aires is the perfect preparation for playing Brazil in Brasilia so we’re looking forward.
“We’ll certainly be reviewing this but I believe the experience we’ve had over these past two games is going to hold us in great stead.” Figueira added.
New Zealand will open their campaign against Angola on 27 October before facing hosts Brazil three days later and Canada on 2 November.