New Zealand will be looking to build on it's Round of 16 appearance at the last FIFA U-20 World Cup, as Darren Bazeley's men prepare in Auckland for a training camp ahead of this month's tournament in Korea Republic.
Bazeley has named an extended squad of 30 players, including five full-capped All Whites and six Wellington Phoenix players: Liam Wood, Luke Johnson, Jack-Henry Sinclair, Sarpreet Singh, James McGarry and Logan Rogerson.
Wood captained the Wellington Phoenix U-20s last season in the Stirling Sports Premiership alongside Johnson with former NZ U-17s captain Sinclair, while Singh and Rogerson made their senior Phoenix debuts this season, with McGarry also appearing for the first team.
New Zealand have been drawn in Group E alongside France, Honduras and Vietnam and might need to match their 2015 efforts in winning one and drawing one to escape a tricky group which Bazeley is in no way underestimating.
“This is a hugely important week for our team,” said Bazeley.
“Our players are scattered all around the world so this training camp will enable us to see where our players are at physically and help us decide our final squad for Korea. The players know they have a huge opportunity in front of them and I am sure it is going to be a very tough squad to select.”
The New Zealand U20s will train every day this week at QBE Stadium in Auckland and play two games on Tuesday and Wednesday night against Birkenhead United and Forrest Hill Milford respectively.
Bazeley and his staff will then whittle the squad down to 21, which they will name on Monday 8 May, and the head coach expects high standards as the extended squad presses for inclusion.
“The guys can remember how special it was two years ago making the knockout rounds of the FIFA U-20 World Cup on home soil and they all want to emulate and try to surpass the 2015 squad performances,” he said.
“We haven’t been able to get a large group together since January, due to so many players now being based offshore, so this is a good chance to get everyone together and back on the same page with how we want to play and then settle on the squad. The depth in this group will help us achieve our aim which is to win games at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Korea.”
New Zealand open their tournament against Vietnam on Monday 22 May and then face Honduras three days later with both matches at the Cheonan Sports Complex in Cheonan.
They complete their pool matches in Group E against France at the Daejeon World Cup Stadium in Daejeon on 28 May.
New Zealand Greater Training Squad for the FIFA U-20 World Cup (Country/ City, Club, Academy)
Michael Woud, England, Sunderland FC
Cameron Brown, Auckland, Waitemata
Conor Tracey, Auckland , Three Kings
Joshua Dykstra, Auckland, Forest Hill
Hunter Ashworth, USA, University of San Fransisco
Daniel Hayden McHenery, Australia, Brisbane, Western Pride
Luke Johnson, Wellington, Wellington United, Phoenix
Reese Cox, Auckland, East Coast Bays
Sean Liddicoat, Canterbury, Coastal Spirit
Liam Wood, Wellington, Wellington United, Phoenix
Dylan Wood, USA, State University of Denver
Liam Williams, Hamilton, Hamilton
Dane Ingham, Australia, Brisbane, Brisbane Roar Youth
Jack-Henry Sinclair, Wellington, Wellington United, Phoenix
James McGarry, Wellington, Wellington United Phoenix
Dalton Wilkins, Wellington, Western Suburbs, Ole Academy
Moses Dyer, Melbourne, Northcote City
Joe Bell, USA, University of Virginia
Clayton Lewis, Auckland, Onehunga Sports, Auckland City
Connor Probert, USA, University of Kentucky
Sarpreet Singh, Wellington, Wellington United, Phoenix
Callum McCowatt, Wellington, Western Suburbs, Ole Academy
Owen Parker-Price, Wellington, Western Suburbs, Ole Academy
Dylan Burns, Auckland, Glenfield Rovers
Jake Porter, Auckland, Onehunga Sports
Noah Billingsley , USA, US Santa Barbara
Myer Bevan, England, Nike Academy
Henry Cameron, England, Blackpool FC
Logan Rogerson, Wellington, Wellington United, Phoenix
Lucas Imrie, USA, Loyola University Chicago
New Zealand fixtures at the FIFA U-20 World Cup:
v Vietnam Monday 22 May (11pm NZ time) Cheonan Sports Complex, Cheonan
v Honduras 25 May (11pm NZ time) Cheonan Sports Complex, Cheonan
v France 28 May (6pm NZ time) Daejeon World Cup Stadium, Daejeon