On the face of things, it might look a little daunting, but this New Zealand squad could be able to pull off a few upsets. Football in Oceania looks at the opposition before tomorrow’s opening games.
The furthest New Zealand has ever made it at this age level was a quarterfinal appearance in 2014, where Nigeria were too strong. This year they have a good shot at recapturing those heights, and perhaps even surpass them.
GROUP A: France (hosts), Ghana, New Zealand, Netherlands
The Netherlands make their debut in the World Cup at this level. They have been heavy-hitters at the women’s senior stage for a good few years now and perhaps this is the time to shine at youth level too? They lost to eventual winners Spain in the Euros semi-final last summer, so this is no weak squad. Then again, that could be said for all the teams present. Because this is uncharted waters for both sides in terms of head to head record, you’d have to think New Zealand could get a point or even a win here.
New Zealand – Netherlands: 5th August 16:30 local time
France are the hosts and the big favourites to take the top spot in this group. That still leaves one spot to fight it out for. If New Zealand get a point here, they should be happy with that. The last time these two met, in the World Cup in Papua New Guinea in 2016, the young Les Bleues beat the Kiwis 2-0.
France – New Zealand: 8th August 19:30 local time.
Ghana are in their fifth straight U20 World Cup, but have yet to progress out of the group stage. With all the players, except for Ernestina Abambila, selected for the squad plying their trade in Ghana, there’s not much in terms of household name clubs for the young Africans. New Zealand beat the Ghanaians in Papua New Guinea and will be looking to do so again. A win here could make or break the hopes for advancement.
Ghana – New Zealand: 12th August 16:30 local time.
New Zealand’s squad:
The young Kiwis have plenty of experience in their ranks with Liz Anton, Anna Leat, Paige Satchell, Malia Steinmetz, Hannah Blake, Sarah Morton and Maggie Jenkins all capped at senior level for the Football Ferns.
Furthermore, Sarah Morton, Anton, Grace Jale, Satchell and Blake all played for New Zealand in the tournament in Papua New Guinea so they know what it’s all about.
Last year Head Coach Gareth Turnbull told Football in Oceania that they could beat anyone on their day. Let’s hope he’s right.
Football in Oceania wishes the New Zealand U20 squad all the best of luck.