Friday, January 7, 2011

NZ chase spot at under-17 World Cup

[New Zealand Herald, 6 January 2011] - The New Zealand under-17 youth soccer team will not lack for confidence when they bid to retain their Oceania championship title in Auckland.

The 10-nation event starts on Saturday, with coach Steve Cain's players favoured to win the tournament and qualify for this year's under-17 World Cup in Mexico.

Cain has a strong Young All Whites squad at his disposal, largely made of up players who appeared for Youth League sides this season while several have even featured in the domestic premiership senior squads.

Youth League champions Waitakere United have contributed four players, including captain Luke Adams and striker Tim Payne, who made his national league debut for Auckland City last season at the age of 16.

Another Waitakere youngster, Jordan Vale, could be another to watch. The midfielder is the son of former national women's team goalkeeper Yvonne Vale and trialed for the under-15 side of English Premier League club Aston Villa as a 14-year-old.

"We've got some very talented and pacey players in this squad," Cain said.

"We hope to go at teams and we know we'll be up against some pretty solid and well organised opponents. We're looking to impose our game on them."

The 13th edition of the tournament is expected to be the most competitive yet and New Zealand anticipate tough challenges from the likes of Vanuatu, Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

The final is on January 19.

Group A: New Zealand, Vanuatu, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, American Samoa.
Group B: New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tahiti, Cook Islands.


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