Five Things to Know About New Zealand U-20s
After winning Group F, the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team continues play at the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup against New Zealand in the Round of 16 on Thursday, June 1. The match will kick off at 7 a.m. ET and will be televised live on FS1, FOX Sports GO and Telemundo En Vivo.
Here are five things to know about the Junior All Whites:
How They Got Here
New Zealand reached the Round of 16 as the second place team from Group E; the Junior All Whites picked up four points during the group phase. After opening with a 0-0 draw against Vietnam, New Zealand earned a 3-1 victory against Honduras, before falling 2-0 France in its final group match.
New Zealand qualified for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup as winners of the 2016 Oceania Football Confederation U-20 Championship. Forward Myer Bevan was named the best player of the OFC U-20 Championship and was joint top-scorer with five goals.
U-20 World Cup History
New Zealand is making its fifth all-time appearance at the U-20 World Cup, and its fourth consecutive since the 2011 edition in Colombia. In their first three tournament appearances, the Junior All Whites were knocked out in the Group Stage without recording a single victory.
Hosting the tournament in 2015, New Zealand fell 4-0 to the USA in their second group game before rebounding to advance to the Round of 16. There, they fell 2-1 to Portugal in the nation’s first-ever knockout game at the U-20 World Cup.
Five U.S. Collegians
New Zealand’s roster features five players that play soccer collegiately in the United States: Hunter Ashworth (University of San Francisco), Joe Bell (University of Virginia), Noah Billingsley (UC Santa Barbara), Lucas Imrie (Loyola-Chicago), and Connor Probert (University of Kentucky).
Ashworth, who scored New Zealand’s second goal in its 3-1 group stage win against Honduras, will be a redshirt sophomore at San Francisco this fall. Billingsley and Probert each will enter their sophomore season in 2017, while Bell and Imrie will start their college careers this fall.
The USL Connection
In addition to its five U.S. based college players, New Zealand’s Myer Bevan is a member of Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 in the United Soccer League. Bevan, who had a two-week trial with Whitecaps 2 earlier this spring, signed for the club just before the start of the U-20 World Cup.
Bevan scored a pair of goals for New Zealand in its 3-1 victory over Honduras in the group stage. Prior to joining the Whitecaps, he was a member of the Nike Football Academy, a full-time professional-level training program based out of St. George’s Park in England.
Darren Bazeley has been in charge of the New Zealand U-20 National Team since 2013. A native of Northampton, England, Bazeley spent the majority of his professional playing career at Watford in England, appearing 283 times for the Hornets from 1989-99. Bazeley finished his career in New Zealand, playing with New Zealand Knights and Waitakere United.
Bazeley began his coaching career in 2008 with the Waitakere United youth team. A year later he served as an assistant coach with the New Zealand U-17 National Team at the 2009 U-17 World Cup. Bazeley was the head coach of the New Zealand U-17 team from 2011-13 before taking over the U-20s.