The New Zealand squad has completed its final preparations for the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup in promising fashion, twice taking the lead against European giants England before eventually falling to a 3-2 defeat.
Having arrived in India early to acclimatise to the hot weather after a long New Zealand winter, the match against England proved to be a worthy test after an impressive performance against a strong Brazil side in a slim 2-1 defeat.
New Zealand were looking for another pleasing outing before taking on Turkey in their first match of Group B on Saturday morning (NZT).
Danny Hay’s side showed signs of their quality, twice taking the lead against a well-drilled and highly-skilled England outfit.
Willem Ebbinge’s pass played Oliver Whyte into a favourable position 20 yards out, from where his strike was placed into the top right corner to open the scoring in spectacular fashion.
Moments later, England equalised when skipper Marc Guehi netted from a corner but both sides missed chances to take the lead before the break and headed into the changing rooms level.
New Zealand gained the advantage once more in the second half when Elijah Just dispossessed Emile Smith-Rowe and scored to put his team 2-1 up.
But a double from substitute Rhian Brewster turned the match in England’s favour as it ended 3-2.
After pushing Brazil so close a couple of days earlier, Hay’s young charges have now performed strongly against a pair of top-class teams in their World Cup preparations, boding well for when their campaign kicks off this weekend.
Hay is pleased with how the build-up has gone and believes the experience will stand his players in good stead.
“We gave a good account of ourselves today and could have pulled off a draw,” he said.
“I’m really pleased that we have a good bunch of quality young men in the squad and I’m really excited about the tournament.”
Story courtesy of New Zealand Football