New Zealand and USA, who are set to meet at Estadio Hildago in Pachuca on Saturday, will both be going head-to-head for a vital three points in order to top Group D at the FIFA U-17 World Cup. A win for either side would ensure progression through to Torreon for a last-16 match with one of the best third-placed sides to have advanced from the group stage.
USA-New Zealand, 25 June, 18.00 (local time), Pachuca
The Kiwis and Americans first meet at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 1999, with the United States coming out 2-1 victors over New Zealand. With that success in mind, the Stars and Stripes may expect to taste victory once again, but with the perfect opportunity to take revenge, New Zealand will have other ideas in mind.
After an impressive attacking performance in their first game against the Czech Republic, United States failed to replicate similar success against Uzbekistan as they slumped to a shock 2-1 loss. Against the Kiwis, midfielders Alejandro Guido and Marc Pelosi will likely be looked upon to create more scoring chances for Mario Rodriguez. Meanwhile, USA have been boosted by two goals from substitute-striker Alfred Koroma - will he be the trick to reignite their attack?
Despite suffering a narrow 1-0 defeat by Czech Republic on Wednesday, New Zealand's morale remains intact. A fiery second-half performance in that match boosted the team’s confidence and coach Aaron McFarland has affirmed his belief in the squad's ability to down USA. With the threat of hat-trick hero Stephen Carmichael smothered by sturdy Czech defence, the talented Tim Payne was able to prove his worth and, if not for the athleticism of the Czech goalkeeper Lucas Zima, the midfielder would surely have scored.
2 - The number of minutes USA forward Alfred Komora took to score against both Uzbekistan and the Czech Republic after coming on as a substitute.
“We didn’t perform well against Uzbekistan - the players were too casual. We have to focus in our final match against New Zealand. There is no room for anymore errors. We will play our brand of football,” USA coach Wilmer Cabrera.
“We’ve got to play like we did in the second half against the Czech Republic, with attacking football and constantly threatening the opposition's goal. We’re confident we can perform well against USA and we know we have got what it takes to defeat them,” New Zealand coach Aaron McFarland.