New blood faces old foes in FIFA U-20 World Cup preparation

Football fever is set to begin ahead of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2015 with a pre-tournament.

Australia may have got the better of the New Zealand international cricket team during the recent Cricket World Cup final, but New Zealand - the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2015 host side - will be looking for a reverse of fortunes on the football field.

Six warm-up games

Six international warm-up games have been announced (23.04.2015) with the New Zealand U-20 football team taking on trans-Tasman rivals  Australia and fellow FIFA U-20 competitors Ghana, Panama and Qatar with games taking place across the North Island. 

The Five Nations Series - which kicks off with a mouth-watering clash between New Zealand and Australia at Auckland’s QBE Stadium in Auckland on Sunday May 3 - is the perfect prequel to the prestigious FIFA tournament and is sure to give fans a taste of what is to come when the competition proper starts on May 30, 2015.

New Zealand will meet Panama on Thursday 7 May before tangling with Qatar on Sunday 10 May at Hamilton’s Waikato Stadium while a New Zealand Invitational XI will also face African powerhouses Ghana on the same day in Hamilton.

Once the Five Nations Series is complete, New Zealand will complete their preparation for their Group A tournament opener with matches against Honduras and Austria on May 21 and 24 respectively.

Honduras will contest Group F once the FIFA U-20 World Cup gets underway while Austria will compete in Group B along with Panama and Ghana. Qatar has been drawn in Group C against Columbia, Portugal and Senegal.

Excellent build-up

New Zealand Men’s U-20 coach Darren Bazeley says the confirmation of the warm-up games provides as excellent cap on the team’s build up to their tournament opener against Ukraine on May 30 at QBE Stadium.

“The games give supporters in Auckland and Hamilton the chance to get a flavour of what the tournament will be like once it all gets underway on May 30. 

“Everyone in the squad is excited for the opportunity to play at home ahead of the World Cup and we can’t wait for our game against Australia on May 3.”

FIFA U-20 World Cup CEO, Dave Beeche reiterated Bazeley’s comments saying that the tournament would act as a fantastic curtain-raiser for the main event - the FIFA U-20 World Cup.

“We’re delighted that some of the participating nations will be in New Zealand early, it all helps to build the momentum and excitement for the FIFA U-20 World Cup,”

“Kiwis are really starting to get behind the event, ticket sales have tipped over the 100,000 mark and this pre-tournament will only help to raise the profile even further.” 

FIFA U-20 World Cup 2015

Seven host cities throughout New Zealand will host some of the most talented rising stars of the world game when the FIFA U-20 World Cup is staged in New Zealand in 2015. 

Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, New Plymouth and Wellington in the North Island will host games, while Christchurch and Dunedin will represent the sport-loving South Island. The schedule sees four pool games played in two of the seven host cities daily - with plenty of double-header football action to whet the sporting appetite.

During the three-week tournament (30 May - 20 June 2015) New Zealand will play host to 24 international teams, with a total of 52 matches played.

U-20 Five Nations Series 

May 2015

New Zealand v Australia
Sunday 3 May, 7pm
QBE Stadium, Auckland

Qatar v Ghana
Monday 4 May, 1pm
QBE Stadium, Auckland

Qatar v Australia
Thursday 7 May, 4pm
QBE Stadium, Auckland

New Zealand v Panama
Thursday 7 May, 7pm
QBE Stadium, Auckland 

Panama v Australia
Sunday 10 May, 1pm
Waikato Stadium, Hamilton

New Zealand v Qatar
Sunday 10 May, 4pm
Waikato Stadium, Hamilton

Ghana v NZ Invitation XI
Sunday 10 May, kickoff TBC
Waikato Stadium, Hamilton

Qatar v Panama
Wednesday 13 May, 1pm
Waikato Stadium, Hamilton 

Ghana v Australia
Wednesday 13 May, 4pm
Waikato Stadium, Hamilton

Additional international matches
New Zealand v Honduras
Thursday 21 May

New Zealand v Austria
Sunday 24 May