Crowds all over the country have been treated to world class football and incredible atmosphere in the past two weeks as New Zealand moves into the knockout stages of FIFA U-20 World Cup action.
The visiting teams were treated to a taste of traditional Maori culture as they were welcomed to Aotearoa New Zealand before it was down to business on the pitch.
Kiwi football fans showed up in force on the opening weekend of the tournament with more than 71,000 fans pouring into stadiums across the country.
The Junior All Whites made history advancing to the final 16 with a 5-1 victory over Myanmar at Wellington Regional Stadium. Die-hard fans got behind the team with a ‘white out’ in the downtown stadium to show support for the home side. The New Zealand side head next to Waikato Stadium in Hamilton to take on Portugal.
‘Fever Pitch’ fan hubs are in full swing across the country providing a space that immerses visitors and those who can't get to the games in the emotion, energy and excitement of the tournament.
Two of football’s heavyweight nations took to the pitch on Sunday (7 June) at Christchurch Stadium in a double header of epic proportions. Brazil and Germany played back-to-back as both teams advanced to the knockout stages of the FIFA U-20 World Cup undefeated.
Germany Vs Honduras
First up Germany easily dispatched of Honduras 5-1 in the group F clash ending the Central Americans tournament chances.
The Germans started their tournament with a bang beating Fiji 8-1 and putting on an impressive display of attacking football. Young star Hany Mukhtar, who plays his club football with Portuguese club Benefica, scored a hat trick and will be looking to add to his tally when his team take on the Central American nation.
Germany backed up their first win in a dominant performance over Uzbekistan taking out the match 3-0 which confirms they will advance in the tournament.
Christchurch will once again play host to Germany on Thursday (11 June) when they take on Nigeria in one of the most intriguing match ups of the final 16.
Germany Vs Nigeria, Christchurch Stadium, Thursday, 11 June, kick-off 19:30 NZT
Brazil Vs Korea DPR
Brazil opened their campaign with a thrilling 4-2 victory over Nigeria in group E sending a message to the competition that they want their sixth and record-equalling FIFA U-20 World Cup title.
Their momentum continued on Sunday as they advanced to the final 16 undefeated after a 3-0 win over Korea DPR.
Brazil will now travel back to New Plymouth to take on fellow South Americans Uruguay in their first knockout match
Manchester United’s young prodigy Andreas Pereira, who made his premier league debut for the Red Devils in March, will be vital to his side's success. Pereira scored the winning goal from the penalty spot against Hungary and has been an important part of Brazil’s attack whenever he enters the game.
Brazil Vs Uruguay, Stadium Taranaki, Thursday, 11 June, kick-off 19:30 NZT
Christchurch – A City on the Rise
Named by Lonely Planet as one of the top places to visit in the world in 2013, Christchurch - the ‘Garden City’ as it is affectionately known - is New Zealand’s oldest city and offers visitors an eclectic mix of adventures and experiences to enjoy.
Christchurch is home to the Asia Pacific Football Academy, in association with English Premier League footballing giants Chelsea FC, and an official youth development partner of the Wellington Phoenix, developing the future footballing talent of New Zealand.
Christchurch was rocked by a devastating earthquake in 2011 - but the city is rising again with new vigour and overflowing with bars, restaurants, art and creativity.
One of the most symbolic new features of the city is the Transitional ‘cardboard’ Cathedral - an innovative structure made from cardboard, wood and steel. Funky bars transformed from shipping containers and up-cycled material add to the resurgent feeling of the city, providing the place to enjoy a pre or post-match drink and bite to eat.
Christchurch, known as the 'garden city’, is home to 740 parks, covering about 3,000ha.
Rakaia bridge, at 1.8km, is the southern hemisphere’s longest bridge.
Aoraki Mt Cook (3,754m) is New Zealand’s highest mountain. Aoraki means ‘cloud piercer’.
Canterbury, at 42,200 sq km, is New Zealand's largest region
The FIFA U-20 World Cup 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.
Broadcast to more than 100 countries, with a global reach of around 170 million people, the FIFA U-20 World Cup will also help promote New Zealand to the world. Thousands of overseas football fans are expected to travel to the country in support of their team.