FIFA U-20 World Cup record
New Zealand head into Korea Republic 2017 boosted by momentum built up in 2015 when they not only hosted a highly successful FIFA U-20 World Cup, but earned their maiden win at this level. Surprisingly, New Zealand had featured on just three occasions prior to 2015, failing to gain a win in nine matches. The Kiwis returned home from their debut at Canada 2007 without a point, but only narrowly missed the knockout stage four years later in Colombia. Hard-fought 1-1 draws against Cameroon and Uruguay were followed by a narrow 1-0 loss to eventual runners-up Portugal. Three defeats ensued at Turkey 2013, before the breakthrough on home soil. A thumping 5-1 win over Myanmar and a draw with Ukraine meant a first-ever Round of 16 match, but Portugal once again proved to be their nemesis, this time with a late winner in a 2-1 scoreline.

Road to Korea Republic
New Zealand’s qualifying campaign was built around a core of defensive structure and team organisation. The dividends were clear as the New Zealanders conceded just two goals in their five matches. They won their opening two outings, before a changed line-up were held to a goalless draw by Solomon Islands. New Zealand didn’t have it all their own way in their semi, falling behind before claiming a 3-1 win over New Caledonia. They saved their best to last, however, with a stunning 5-0 victory over hosts Vanuatu for a sixth OFC title. The squad featured three players with senior international experience while others, such as Michael Woud, who was named the tournament’s best goalkeeper, came to the fore.

The coach
Darren Bazeley is set for his third successive appearance at the FIFA U-20 World Cup as New Zealand coach, having also previously coached at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Bazeley enjoyed a long career in England’s lower leagues, primarily with Watford, and was also a England U-21 international. His coaching journey commenced after a brief stint at former A-League club New Zealand Knights concluded in 2007.

The stat
3
– Striker Myer Bevan commenced the OFC U-20 Championship as an unknown and ended it with his name on the honour board. He scored a hat-trick in the first game - his international debut - and ended with five goals in as many outings to be named player of the tournament.