New Zealand Football today announced the confirmed squad that will travel to Poland ahead of the FIFA U-20s World Cup tournament, in May.
U-20s Head Coach, Des Buckingham has been working hard to identify the best possible squad and it’s an impressive team that will turnout for the tournament which kicks off in late May.
Wellington Phoenix are well represented at the tournament with Hyundai A-League regulars, Sarpreet Singh and Liberato Cacace being joined by recent debutants Gianni Stensness, Callan Elliot and Benjamin Waine. Academy prospects, Willem Ebbinge and Zac Jones complete the club’s presence at the tournament.
Academy Director, Paul Temple is extremely excited by the amount of the club’s talent that are travelling to the tournament after seeing their progression through the Academy setup in Wellington.
‘‘The number of Wellington Phoenix players involved are a reflection on some of the work that has been happening over the last two to three years.
‘‘When you’re talking about the U-20s World Cup, the majority of those players competing will be professional footballers so the likes of Sarpreet, Liberato and Callan heading into professional football from the Academy system and into the national system is exactly what we want to see.
‘‘It’s fantastic for us as an Academy to see some of the rewards as a football club with these young players getting these opportunities and providing them with a stage to improve.
Temple, believes the ISPS Handa Premiership side can take a lot of credit for the development of these young players into the professional and international setup.
‘‘It shows exactly why we’re in that league because it gives these players a stage to perform on.
‘‘Without that competition, we wouldn’t have had these players ready to step up to professional football.
‘‘As a football club, we put in a lot of work to develop these players and there will be plenty of people who will be extremely proud of them.’’
One of the prospects includes 20-year old Gianni Stensness, who has impressed significantly since arriving from across the ditch.
‘‘I am very happy to be included in the New Zealand U-20s World Cup Squad and I can’t wait to prove my worth.
The Australian born defensive player holds a New Zealand passport and made the decision to represent his current residence, last month.
‘‘This year has been a dream for me from making my Hyundai A-League debut and playing and training alongside the likes of Andrew Durante to now receiving my call up to the U-20s squad.
Stensness will be joined by Callan Elliot, who also impressed in the ISPS Handa Premiership to earn his recent debut in the first team.
‘‘I can’t wait to be in that environment where I can continue my development and improve myself on the world stage.
‘‘It has been a whirlwind experience this year and I am very grateful to be part of an exciting squad that wants to express themselves on this level.’’
Des Buckingham’s New Zealand U-20s squad will travel to Poland in early May in preparation for their first game on 24 May against Honduras.
Wellington Phoenix Players Representing New Zealand U-20s