“We could see it coming. We never got too far ahead of ourselves but we had such a good season last year expectations were high,” Thomas Walters of the St John’s College, Hamilton First XI revealed when asked about prospects for 2021.
With nine Year 13’s returning, St John’s achieved something they hadn’t done since 2002 - win the Waikato Secondary Schools Premier Division football title.
St John’s topped the first round of the competition, outpacing eight teams and were then front runners in the second round top four series. A 3-1 victory over perennial winners Hamilton Boys’ High School secured the title.
“It was definitely a good feeling to win. We were second by only a few points last year and Hamilton are our biggest rivals. We play an attacking style of football and aren’t afraid to get stuck in and foul if necessary.
“Against Hamilton we were up 3-0 at halftime. I scored the first goal from a free kick. Riley Sexton got the next one after their keeper dropped the ball from a set piece and Tom Roach got the third after we moved the ball around. We beat them twice which was awesome.”
Walters is an attacking midfielder who scored 11 goals throughout the season. His main attributes are “vision,” “passing” and “leadership.” He has built a productive relationship with coach Darren Walters.
“Darren is passionate about what he does. He went to Auckland Grammar, did some rep coaching, and started with the Colts at St John’s. He’s been with the First XI for eight years and he looks out for us on and off the field.
“He’s encouraged a lot of the boys to get into club football with the likes of Cambridge, Melville and Hamilton Wanderers. The boys have been tested against older players and mixed with different groups which has been really good for us.”
Walters plays for Wanderers who struggled in the senior league but Walters is a regular fixture in representative sides and was convinced St John’s would have produced a good showing at Nationals which were cancelled last month.
“We only lost to Tauranga Boys’ 2-1 and they were a very strong side. We never gave up and I think we won their respect.
“It wasn’t great that Nationals were canceled, but personally winning the league is the end of an era for me. It was a great way to finish my time in the First XI.
Hamilton Boys’ were National champions as recently as 2017. The last time St John’s won the Premier League prior to this season defender Rio Ferdinand was the most expensive player in the world.
Story by Adam Julian, for College Sport Media, October 2021.
“I was scared when I saw it hit the post. We’d already had a couple of near misses. I struck it where I wanted, but I honestly thought it had missed,” Zander Edwards recalls of his first goal in the Trevor Rigby Cup final for Wellington College against Scots College.
Down 1-2 at halftime, Wellington leveled after an hour when Edwards swiftly latched onto a swirling ball and shot between two defenders from 20 yards.
“When it went in I was like this could be our day. It didn’t feel like that earlier.”
Wellington tumbled behind again when Rory Best turned George and netted a third for Scots but Wellington had unflinching faith in their attacking methodology.
“We planned to hit them on attack. We’ve scored a lot of goals this season and you are not going to beat the champions by sitting back. Sometimes we were up too high which left us exposed at the back but generally we’ve got that balance right this season.”
Wellington's third goal was scored when they out-committed Scots in the penalty area.
“I’m not sure what happened but the ball was bouncing around and I thought I’d put it into the back of the net. Scots protested the goal. I heard a high pitch screech, but I don’t think there was anything in it.”
There is plenty of courage in the DNA of Cooper Duggan. The experienced striker hobbled off just prior to halftime, but returned with half an hour remaining, eventually setting up the winner for Edwards with a sizzling burst down the left wing.
“Cooper is a wonderful player, it’s a real privilege to play with him. He is dangerous anytime he gets the ball. He can create as well as score. It was brave of him to come back on, but I wasn’t surprised because we needed him.”
Wellington was able to play more cautiously with the lead, but it wasn’t comfortable.
“It kind of fell apart because Scots got back in our half and had a few shots on goal. We were basically playing for the whistle and didn’t realise there were five minutes of extra time.”
The blustery wind was another tax.
“A wind like Saturday changes the whole complexion of the game. In one half you can hit the long ball but against the breeze you have to play on the deck and weigh your passes.
“Our ground is quite exposed so we often train in the wind. Cones and goals blow over. I honestly think the strong wind was an advantage for us.”
Edwards has given Wellington College an advantage since arriving from Rathkeale College in 2019. In just his second game for Wellington he scored four goals in a staggering 10-0 win against St Patrick’s College, Wellington. In 2021 he scored 21 goals in 18 games and finished the Trevor Rigby Cup as the golden boot winner.
He was born in Northampton, England and supports Arsenal. He is involved with the Miramar Rangers club.
Hamish Wareham is a guru of Wellington Secondary Schools Football and observed:
“Zander is the first player in Trevor Rigby Cup final history to score a hat-trick. I’ve never seen a final like Saturday’s, unbelievable. Wellington struggled to contain Alden Suri in the first-half, Scots' lethal talisman scoring twice. Once Alden was starved of the ball, Wellington was able to dominate and Zander was deadly in front of goal. What a game. I’m still buzzing.”
Story for College Sport Media by Adam Julian, September 2021.
Four years ago, the Onslow College First XI girls football team were languishing in Premier 2. On Wednesday night they won their first Wellington Premier title since 1993 with a victory on penalties against four-time reigning champions, Wellington Girls’ College.
It was the first time since 2003 when Onslow lost to Samuel Marsden they had been involved in a decider.
Onslow was seventh in the Premiership in 2019, jumping to third last year and then champions by holding their nerve in an 11-shot shootout.
The Ross twins, Hannah and Nicola, have been at the forefront of the ascent. Together they have combined for an estimated 160 games. However central defender Hannah concedes she was petrified when her turn to take a penalty arrived at 5-5.
“I went up to take our sixth shot but had a bit of a panic attack, so Scarlett (O’Donnell) was really brave and went instead. I wasn’t standing there to go next, I was standing there cause I’m a really good friend,” Hannah laughed.
Year 10 Scarlett scored while her sister Eliza O'Donnell watched on in the losing team.
“We're not a very sporty school so it means a lot to us and the school to win this trophy,” Hannah said.
“At halftime we had to settle down, pass more, and get more possession in their half. They scored the first goal, and we did well to keep them out. In the second-half our energy levels were up. It was still very stressful, but getting a goal was a great booster,” she continued.
Golden boot winning striker Olivia Ingham was the source of the goal. Attacking midfielder Nicola was at the fore.
“The great thing about our defence is they can transition quickly onto attack. WGC had a good first-half, but we regrouped at halftime and switched on. We created a lot of opportunities. We’ve got a good balance,” Nicola said.
Wellington Girls’ won the last encounter which went to penalties against Onslow but Hannah insists Onslow had a positive mindset.
“Choose a spot, don’t change your mind, and stay calm was our approach. All the girls were amazing.”
The Ross twins have been in the First XI since Year 9. Their leadership has helped nurture a side that only has another Year 13.
“Our coach Rachel Finlay has been amazing. She is a sports scientist and went to the 2018 Under-17 World Cup with New Zealand. We have got dinner at our place next week to celebrate. It is going to be weird not playing for Onslow next year, but I’m proud of what we’ve done,” Nicola concluded.
Wellington College win blockbuster Trevor Rigby final
Wellington College have won their first Trevor Rigby Cup final since 2013, rallying from behind three times to dethrone reigning champions Scots College 4-3.
The winner in the 2021 Wellington Boys Premier 1 football final was scored with about five minutes remaining when the courageous Cooper Duggan burst down the left wing and crossed to Zander Edwards who calmly slotted it past the keeper to complete an epic second-half hat-trick.
Duggan had hobbled off before halftime and was ginger most of the second-spell, summoning the heart and skill to supply the prolific Edwards.
Despite the horribly blustery conditions the spectacle was top shelf. Wellington controlled early possession and created the better chances, but Scots flyer Alden Suri was first to strike with his right foot from a Tom England turnover.
Oscar Crowe always runs a mile for Wellington College and when he latched onto a Jack Julian pass and evaded two defenders scores were tied.
Scots captain Charlie Bachelor set up Suri on the left and the cartwheels he performed were a joyful showcase of superior talent. The halftime score was 2-1.
Long balls were always a lottery and a combination of a lucky bounce and pace saw Edwards split two Scots tacklers and fire a shot into the right post which rebounded into the back of the net, 2-2.
Wellington kept on pressing but Rory Best emulated Suri’s solo brilliance with a searing bust and short on the right wing to make it 3-2 to Scots.
Wellington’s third was protested by Scots. Multiple shots in the penalty area were blocked by Scots. Defender Thijn Overkamp collapsed in distress as the ball was scrambled towards the right corner. Jack Julian whipped a cross back inside and Edwards, quick as a flash forced it in.
Wellington coach Stu Widdowson celebrated his 100th game in charge with a title at a second school; he'd previously been successful at St Pats Town. Wellington’s record for the season was 22 wins, two defeats and a draw in 25 games. They scored 117 goals.
Interviews and stories by Adam Julian, for College Sport Media and College Sport Wellington, September 2021.
In 1981 New Zealand was split over the Springboks tour as the All Whites commenced a giant killing spree which would see them qualify for the Football World Cup for the first time in 1982. Trevor Francis was the world’s richest player.
In Christchurch, St Bede’s College were the Canterbury First XI champions, winning 17 of 20 matches and out-scoring opponents 71-25.
It would take more than 2,000 weeks for St Bede’s to jump back inside a time machine, but last Wednesday the First XI emulated the feat of their 1981 side by defeating Christ’s College 2-1 in the final of the Connetics Mainland League.
Christ’s topped the round-robin, winning all 11 matches and conceding a stingy three goals. They had beaten St Bede’s 3-0 previously but came unstuck against the gritty Catholics. Goalkeeper Finn Mounty is First XI captain.
“We're a physical team. We don’t shy away from tough tackles. Sure, we give away a few fouls but we pride ourselves on playing old school footy. If you're going to do fancy stuff, you better be good at it,” he said.
Christ’s is a polished team renowned for their pace and superior touch. In accordance with the form book they seized an early lead.
“We started off alright with a chance in the first 30 seconds which was really encouraging. Five minutes later we conceded a corner which we didn’t set up properly for. The ball bobbled around, and they went on to tap it in.
“In the past we might have fallen apart but three minutes later our striker Adam Poumaka scored a really good solo goal. The rest of the half was back and forward.”
Mounty joined the First XI in Year 10. St Bede’s won the Plate final (fifth place) three times from 2018 to 2020. This year the top four was a realistic target.
“We had a core group back, two Year 13 strikers, a centre back and new coaches. We had a bit of a shocker against Papanui High School which was a turning point of our season. We had to be more switched on and when we beat St Thomas who've been very strong, we knew we had the makings of a good side.
“We kept on building and became really tight. We had 25 turning up to Sunday training. Our game is about overloading the midfield and cutting off supply for key attackers in the opposition. Cashmere High scored the most goals in the league. We kept them to nil twice to make the final. Christ’s are a quick, possession-based team and we noticed they started rushing things and getting frustrated.”
Without New Zealand Under 19 selection Daniel Metherell, Christ’s was truly strangled. The winning moment for St Bede’s happened in the 83rd minute.
“I sent the ball forwards and one of our players who identified a gap in Christ's defence, passing it through to Josh Coe. Josh changed direction from left to right and shot past the keeper. It was unbelievable. After that we had to dig in our heels.”
St Bede’s thwarted desperate Christ's raids and prevailed 2-1. Managing the team was Chris Hubble; managing the 1981 team was his father Simon, then a staff member. This victory was a big deal among old boys.
“We got a lot of messages thanking us, supporting us, it was unreal. I think a lot of people were really surprised. It’s been such a long time,” Mounty said.
Ironically Ollie Hawkins who coached St Bede’s last season was in charge of Christ’s. St Bede’s was coached by Atticus Jones (23) and Luke Ziswiler-Hayton, a member of the First XI in 2020.
“Luke applied for the job and the school had the confidence in his leadership to pick him. He’s doing a couple of coaching courses and our leadership group talked about treating him with respect. Obviously, he’s my mate, but there had to be a little distance and we all agreed about that.
“Like most boys we enjoy talking a bit of rubbish and because Atticus and Luke are still playing, they could take part in a lot of the drills with us and that made training more fun and challenging.”
Mounty plays his club football for Ferrymead Bays and worked “pretty much fulltime” for Countdown during lockdown. He is the head of the First XV supporters club - notorious for a parochial chanting and chainsaw racket.
“We play on a Wednesday night, the First XV on a Saturday afternoon. I keep the chainsaw at home, but I’m only allowed to use it at home games under certain conditions. I had to sign a contract with the Rector. I can’t go into specifics that would be sacrilege, but it’s fair to say I’m pretty proud to go to St Bede’s. "
Interview and story by Adam Julian, for College Sport Media, September 2021.
“I’m not usually a player that does a skill beforehand,” Charlotte Roche (Year 12) giggles when pondering her favourite goal in the Canterbury Premier Girls’ First XI football final.
The striker scored a hat-trick as St Andrew’s College crushed Rangi Ruru Girls' School 5-0 to capture Sport Canterbury honours following two previous defeats in deciders.
“I was super grateful to have a game coming out of lockdown, especially a final. It was quite surprising how well we played because everyone’s fitness during lockdown went down,” Roche said
“It could have gone either way. Rangi played really well. We were lucky we got on top early otherwise we might have felt the pressure.”
Roche scored the first goal of the game, latching onto a brilliant pass, just outside the box, delivered from halfway.
“That was all Amelia McAllister. The credit’s all hers. We have been playing together since we were five years old and she’s super talented.
“My strengths are running on to through balls, speed, and I like one on one contests with the keeper.”
St Andrew’s had beaten Rangi Ruru 8-0 in the first game of 2021 but their opponents became battle-hardened in their first Premiership season for over a decade. Roche was weary of their threat.
“They improved massively throughout the season, holding Christchurch Girls’ High School to a draw and training hard to beat us in lockdown.
“We have gone into the last three finals winning most of our games and then the pressure has got to us. I think the enthusiasm of playing after lockdown helped.”
St Andrew’s led 3-0 at halftime and Roche applied the explanation mark with two second-half goals.
“There was one I scored where I did some skill and that was one I was really excited about. I’m just super grateful to have had a game. It’s really exciting.
“We lost the two previous finals to Burnside. They are a really good side and they were close games we could have won, but we let the occasion get the better of us.”
St Andrew’s won all nine Premier fixtures, outscoring opponents 41-7. Roche identified two goals she scored against Christchurch Girls’ High School as a highlight.
In 2019 she was named in the New Zealand Secondary Schools squad that was scheduled to tour the USA before the arrival of COVID-19. She has also been involved with the New Zealand Under-17 programme.
“That was awesome to go up against other players and experience a New Zealand set up.
“It's really exciting to be in football at the moment with the Phoenix joining the A-League. With the uncertainty of COVID it gives players something to aspire to. I think I’m a long way off that, but it’s going to be cool to watch all the other players.”
Roche has already competed against some of New Zealand’s elite senior talent. She plays her club football for Waimakariri United in the Mainland Premier League. The competition was won by Coastal Spirit who won all 15 matches and outscored opposition 117-6 making them one of the best teams in the country. Coach Juan Chang mentors St Andrew’s with support from Canterbury pride head Alana Gunn.
“I’m really lucky to have good coaches. Juan and Alana Gunn put so much time in and their record speaks for itself.”
Roche has ambitions to be a doctor but her desire to play football has only strengthened over lockdown. The next big event are national age group tournaments, dates yet to be confirmed in December.
Story by Adam Julian, for College Sport Media, September 2021.
The National Secondary Schools First XI football Premier Tournament returns in 2021 after the Covid cancellation of 2020. Last week the boys draw was made for the 32-team tournament to be contested at Park Island, Napier from August 30 to September 3.
There are eight pools with teams each. Three points are achieved for a win with a point for a draw. The top two from each group advance to the second round.
The defending champions are Sacred Heart College who beat Auckland Grammar School 2-1 in the 2019 decider. Grammar opened the scoring with a 25-metre shot by Alex Smith and held that advantage in chilly conditions until the for 35 minutes until Samuel Pointon levelled proceedings when his low, swirling, strike proved elusive.
The winning goal, a penalty, was scored by Riwai Stanton with the last kick in the first-half of extra time. Stanton latched onto a high ball, controlled on the chest, and was brought down in the box while attempting to shoot. The spot kick was calmly executed, driven firmly into the bottom right corner of the net, despite a correct prediction of its direction by the Grammar keeper.
Sacred Heart have won Nationals five times since 2011 and Auckland Grammar a record ten times since its inception in 1978, but not since 2007. Unfortunately, in 2021 both Auckland powerhouses have dipped in the Premier League with 11 combined losses in 21 games. Still in a tournament format both sides can’t be discounted. The Auckland League is headed by Saint Kentigern College who have lost just one game and outscored opponents 41-11. Westlake Boys’ High School are second with eight wins and 37 goals in 11 fixtures.
In the central North Island, Tauranga Boys’ College, Hamilton Boys’ High School and St Peter’s Cambridge are possibly the strongest looking teams. Tauranga won the Super 8 tournament scoring a record 33 goals in five matches. They are superbly led by Jordan Toy and longtime coach Neil Howard brings a lot of experience. He coached a National final in 2002. Hamilton Boys’ won Nationals in 2017 with the goal-keeping of Keegan Hansen proving unforgettable. He even scored a penalty in the final shootout.
The Wellington competition is led by two-time defending champions Scots College where Charlie Batchelor has been a real standout. However, a Scots victory isn’t a foregone conclusion. Wellington College has their strongest team in several years spearheaded by Zander Edwards. Rathkeale could be a dark horse after they upset Scots and boast Riley Grover while HIBS are coached by fiery veteran Brendan McInytre and in Lucas Jelly have a creative, goal scoring threat.
Nelson College are the most recent champions from the South Island winning at home in 2015. They will turn up battle hardened as they often play against senior club sides.
Christchurch is blessed with many fine teams. The Mainland Premiership consisting of a dozen schools is headed by Christ’s College who have won all 10 matches and scored 32 goals. Charlie Cameron and Caleb Manson have been prolific this season as have second-placed Cashmere who have scored 41 goals in their ten games.
Kings and Otago Boys’ are well ahead in Dunedin with King’s outscoring opponents 37-2 in the Premier competition.
St Thomas of Canterbury College
Palmerston North Boys’ High School
St Patrick’s College, Wellington
Westlake Boys’ High School
St Kentigern College
St Peters Cambridge
Mount Albert Grammar School
Otago Boys’ High School
St John’s College, Hamilton
Whangarei Boys’ High School
St Peter’s College, Auckland
New Plymouth Boys’ High School
Hutt International Boys’ School
Auckland Grammar School
Hastings Boys’ High School
Sacred Heart College
Tauranga Boys’ College
Shirley Boys’ High School
Kings High School
Hamilton Boys’ High School
Napier Boys’ High School
Cashmere High School
Tauranga Boys’ College won the Super 8 First XI football title for the second time in three years last week in Napier.
Furthermore, they created history with the most comprehensive triumph any school has achieved in the tournament, stretching back to 1998.
Tauranga won all five matches and outscored opponents 33-2. In the final they defeated New Plymouth Boys’ High School (BHS) 3-0, despite captain Jordan Toy being restricted to limited minutes.
“I sprained my MCL two weeks before the tournament and it was doubtful I’d make it. Being my last year I was determined to be a part of the squad. It’s a credit to our coaches Mr Howard and Mr Bryant they allowed me to attend and support the boys,” Toy said.
Toy was more than a supporter. The New Zealand Secondary Schools representative, captain of the First XI the past two seasons, was often employed late in matches where his leadership helped seal victories.
“Every time I came on we were up, but I had to help claim the boys down. It is a long tournament and I wanted us to keep the ball instead of playing like headless chickens and wasting energy.
“I’m definitely pretty vocal because I think we’ve got such a good team.”
A disciplined Hastings BHS would hold Tauranga until halftime of the first group game. Alex Searle broke the deadlock ten minutes into the second half and Jonty Bidois added a second, a 2-0 win secured.
In the afternoon Gisborne BHS was expected to be a stiff challenge following a narrow defeat to Hamilton BHS. The final scoreline of 18-1 was truly remarkable. Liam Knight and Searle scored four apiece, with Vincent Phirun, Bidois and Ry McLeod all scoring hat tricks. Jack Pateman added one as well.
“Gisborne finished with eight players, but they were always positive, trying and smiling. Our center back had a bit of a mare which allowed them to score but that is a credit to Gisborne.
“I was pleased we didn’t take the foot of the throat,” Toy said.
Tauranga would have to be at their clinical best to account for Hamilton BHS. Tauranga confirmed their place at Nationals with victories over St John’s College (Hamilton), St Paul’s Collegiate, St Peter’s Cambridge and Rotorua Boys’ High School, but lost to Hamilton in a Waikato/Bay of Plenty qualifying series.
After 10 seconds Jonty Bidois had carved out the first chance and from then on it was one way traffic. Ball speed, accurate passing and neat finishing saw Bidois wrap up his hat trick before the half time break. Nathan Rostron and Liam Knight added further goals in the second half as Tauranga won 5-0.
Palmerston North BHS is the most successful side in Super 8 history, but after 15 minutes faced a 3-0 deficit with Phirun, Knight and Searle alluding the Palmy keeper.
“We talked about starting each game strong and putting the pressure on the opposition. If we started strongly, we could rotate players and force errors.”
New Plymouth BHS have been Super 8 finalists the past three seasons and Toy was weary.
“I knew it would be a tough final, they’ve got a lot of experience, but we approached it as a big game and came out strong. We didn’t want to give them a sniff.”
“Alex Searle opened the game with an early goal and did a bit of a black flip which got the boys fired up. After that I felt like we dommanited, though they did play some good football and create chances.”
Tauranga led 1-0 at halftime and goals to Searle and Bidois, who scored in every game in the tournament, secured an impressive 3-0 victory.
Toy is a pacey right winger familiar with silverware. In 2019 he helped Tauranga win the Super 8 for the first time since 2007 and he plays his club football for Tauranga City AFC helping them with the Under-17 Nationals in 2020 and the Under-19 equivalent in 2019.
The deputy head prefect is on the radar of the Phoenix.
Coach Leon Birnie has named the players he hopes will take New Zealand to the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup and there is no shortage of potential among the 18-strong squad.
Birnie will lead his charges to Tahiti in December for the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship, where they will fight it out with 10 other nations for a berth at India 2020.
New Zealand will initially take on the Cook Islands, Fiji and Tahiti in the group stages and Birnie is looking forward to seeing how his side performs on the international stage.
He has already had an early chance to do so on a trip to China in July – in which New Zealand finished runners-up in a four-team friendly tournament – but this will be the players’ first taste of international action with a tangible incentive on the line.
“It’s a really exciting group, we’ve had a really robust identification process across the federations and we were also lucky enough to go across to China and get some international experience over there,” he says.
“That’s put us in a really good place and there were some really tough decisions in selecting this group. What I’m learning is that the ability and depth of players is improving and these decisions are becoming more challenging to make, which is a great problem to have.”
There are no players available to Birnie who were part of the previous U-17 cycle – in which New Zealand made history by winning bronze in Uruguay last year – but he is excited at the prospect of unearthing a new batch of gems.
“While we may lack World Cup experience, 10 out of these 18 players are already involved in the National Women’s League or are playing at a similar level overseas. And those who went to China didn’t just get the experience of facing some of the best players in the world but learning what’s required to win on the world stage. To still have 12 months before potentially attending a World Cup gives us a lot of time to build on that and hopefully we’ll be in a good space by then.”
Securing a spot in India is the main goal for Birnie but he also has one eye on the upcoming years and is relishing the responsibility of developing future stars.
New Zealand squad for OFC U-16 Women’s Championship
Rylee Godbold (WaiBOP/Claudelands Rovers/St Peter’s School)
Murphy Sheaff (Australia)
Jana Niedermayr (Central/Palmerston North Marist/Sacred Heart Girls College)
Kate Taylor (Mainland/Cashmere Technical/Marian College)
Charlotte Lancaster (Central/Palmerston North Marist/Napier Girls High School)
Freya Lodge-Whitham (Mainland/Waimakariri United/Christchurch Girls High School)
Zoe McMeeken (Mainland/Selwyn United/Lincoln High School)
Serenity Thake (Australia)
Samantha Senior (Mainland/Cashmere Technical/Rangi Ruru Girls School)
Alyssa Whinham (Mainland/Halswell United/Riccarton High School)
Te Reremoana Walker (Australia)
Emma Pijnenburg (Auckland/Western Springs/Saint Kentigern College)
Nina Kondo (Capital/Wairarapa United/Solway College)
Ava Pritchard (Northern/Forrest Hill Milford United/Westlake Girls High School)
Jemma Catherwood (Capital/Wellington United/Wellington Girls College)
Ella Russ (Auckland/Three Kings United/Diocesan School for Girls)
Lisa Evans (WaiBOP/Hamilton Wanderers/Otumoetai College)
Milly Clegg (Auckland/Ellerslie/Mt Albert Grammar School)
New Zealand U17 Men’s Head Coach José Figueira is pleased with the squad he has named for the FIFA U-17 World Cup next month in Brazil.
The OFC Champions, who defeated the Solomon Islands in the OFC U16 Championship Final on penalties in September last year to book their place in the World Cup, will take on the hosts Brazil, Canada and Angola in the tournament that will be staged from 26 October to 17 November.
Figueira, who is heading to his first FIFA World Cup with a national age group team, is excited about the challenge in Brazil with a talented group of young men.
“I’m really excited about this group of players,” said Figueira. “This squad is a culmination of a big 18 plus months where we have identified players in what is a really strong age group across the country.
“It is exciting for New Zealand Football that we have a great group of young players coming through, and assembling this 21-man squad to take on some of the best teams from around the world is an exciting challenge for us. Now the focus and the preparations go up another notch as we count down to us departing.”
Figueira has selected 16 of the 20 players who earned the team qualification last year at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara. There are also 16 players from NZ team that travelled to China and claimed a bronze medal in the invitational Panda Cup, where they opened the tournament with an impressive 2-0 win over the Chinese People’s Republic U-18 side in Chengdu.
“There is a core of the group who have been there since the beginning of the cycle and what you find in this age group is you get boys that pop up on the scene, develop at different times, but was is exciting is and all of those players are in a really good space in their football. It is good to have that core but I’m also excited about the ones who have come on the scene in the past five to six months. We have a great blend and balance to this squad.”
The squad includes nine players from the Wellington Phoenix Academy (Lower Hutt City) and five players from the Ole Academy (Western Suburbs). There are seven players from Scots College in Wellington.
Figueira recently travelled to Brasília for the FIFA U-17 World Cup Workshop. He said it was great to see the facilities and get familiar with their group stage home at Bezerrão Stadium.
New Zealand will begin their FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign against debutants Angola, before taking on hosts Brazil second, and Canada in their final pool game.
New Zealand has made the Round of the 16 of the FIFA U-17 World Cup on three occasions (2009, 2011 and 2015) but failed to advance at the last event staged in India in 2017.
“First and foremost the goal for this group is to go over to Brazil and play the way we want to play, to trust in our processes and that style will naturally dovetail into results. I am confident that if we can go there and show who we are, and play with real bravery and a good attitude - that I know we can, then there is no reason why we cannot aim to get out of the group. Our first focus however is on game one against Angola which is only weeks’ away now.”
Please find attached audio from an interview with NZ U-17 men’s coach José Figueira
New Zealand squad for the FIFA U-17 World Cup (Club / School)
Alexander Paulsen (Lower Hutt City / Scots College)
Finn O'Connor (Lower Hutt City / Scots College)
Harry Bark (Lower Hutt City / Scots College)
Campbell Strong (Eastern Suburbs / Sacred Heart College)
Jackson Simpkin (Brisbane City / Anglican Church Grammar School)
Adam Hillis (Lower Hutt City / Scots College)
Keegan Jelacic (Queensland Lions / Kimberly College)
Henry Hamilton (Lower Hutt City / Wellington College)
Jesse Randall (North Wellington / Rongotai College)
Matthew Garbett (Western Suburbs / Wellington College)
Nathan Lobo (Birkenhead United / Liston College)
Kris Naicker (Lower Hutt City / Scots College)
Luca Taylor (Birkenhead United / Mount Albert Grammar)
Oskar van Hattum (Lower Hutt City / NZIS)
Bradley Wilson (Western Springs / St Peters College Auckland)
Max Drake (Lower Hutt City / Scots College)
Benjamin Old (Lower Hutt City / Scots College)
Sean Bright (Western Suburbs / Tawa College)
Marko Stamenic (Western Suburbs / St Patricks College, Kilbirnie)
Otto Ingham (Western Suburbs / Tawa College)
Callum Kennett (Lower Hutt City / Palmerston North Boys)
FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019
New Zealand v Angola
Estádio Bezerrão, Gama
Kick-off: 8pm local time
Brazil v New Zealand
Estádio Bezerrão, Gama
Kick-off: 8pm local time
Canada v New Zealand
Estádio Bezerrão, Gama
Kick-off: 8pm local time
Contesting the final was the straightforward part of the week for Baradene College of the Sacred Heart’s First XI football team last Friday.
Earning the right to get to the decider in the first place and defend their NZSS Girls Premier Lotto title they won for their first time last year was far from plain sailing.
“It was almost a relief to get to the final because we played a really tough semi against Epsom Girls’ Grammar School, who we beat on penalties,” said Baradene striker and co-captain Hannah Pilley. “So that kind of felt like the bigger game.”
It was 0-0 at fulltime in the semi-final against EGGS and Baradene scraped through to the decider against Hillcrest in a penalty shootout.
“We then beat Hillcrest 3-0 and we got those goals pretty early,” said Hannah who scored two of those goals.
“We also won the APC Knockout Cup, so our team has won three titles this year so it is really good,” enthused Hannah.
Then there was the matter of getting out of their pool and making the ‘top 16’, explained team manager Bernadette Goulding.
“We lost our first pool game of the tournament 1-0 to Westlake Girls’ High School. We then beat Queen Margaret College 9-0 in our second game and luckily we won that convincingly as we drew our third pool game 1-1 against Sacred Heart, New Plymouth.”
Baradene thus made the top half of the draw for the remainder of the week on goal difference.
They then beat St Mary’s College, Wellington, 1-0, in a replay of their 2018 quarter-final against the same opposition. Their next win was in the quarter-final against Wellington East Girls’ College, 4-0.
“Then on to our semi-final against EGGS whom we had just played the week before in the final of the APC Cup and we had beaten them on penalties then,” said Bernadette.
“So we knew they would be out for revenge against us, plus they had lost their semi-final at nationals last year.”
In Friday’s final Baradene lined up against Hamilton’s Hillcrest High School, who had beaten Mount Albert Grammar School in a penalty shootout (2-2 fulltime) in their semi-final the previously day.
EGGS beat MAGS 1-0 in the third versus fourth place match, while Westlake GHS beat Napier Girls’ High School 2-1 to finish fifth.
On Sunday, Hannah also played a starring role for her Suburbs ‘Lily Whites’ team in the final of the NZ Football Foundation Kate Sheppard Cup, scoring two first half goals to see her side lead 4-0 at halftime and sail to victory in the second 45 minutes against Coastal Spirit.
“I scored in the first four minutes and then we scored three more, so this game and the school final both didn’t really feel like real finals.”
Hannah played eight games inside a week for school and club, returning to school this week to sit mock Level 3 NCEA exams.
Hannah was one of several Baradene players who were nursing injuries throughout the past week.
“I got an ankle injury in the Kate Sheppard Cup semi-final two weeks ago, so I was unsure if I could play at tournament week but thought to just go and strap it every game.”
Bernadette said that as well as Hannah’s ankle, the team lost another player to injury in the first game, another was nursing a hamstring and back injury, another pulled a glute in the quarter-final and another player had a crook ankle. “So we were actually held together with tape in the end.”
“Winning the tournament again came down to heart and the way the team gelled and handled pressure. We had eight players at nationals for the first time. Some of them new to the team, including two players from the Junior As and one from the second XI.”
“We had one year nine and four year 10s in Christchurch.”
As well as Hannah, who was last year’s Golden Boot winner and was in the New Zealand U17 team, Prue Catton was a leading player week, scoring eight goals, while Ruby Nathan is an up and coming year 9 midfielder.
Bernadette said a key to Baradene’s success this year has been “less is best.”
“We only train once a week, which is one of the reasons why we managed to survive!”
“A lot of the Baradene girls play club football, so they train two or three times a week plus playing, and some of them are also part of the FFDP programme so they are playing extra. So our coach Ryan Shiffman intelligently decided to train the girls once a week and that consisted of walk throughs of set plays and a few small-sided games.”
Of note, Auckland schools dominated this year’s tournament, with three out of four semi-finals coming from Auckland and no South Island schools reaching the top 16.
Baradene’s close neighbour Sacred Heart College also won the equivalent Boys tournament and defended their title.
Bardene College 2019 National Squad:
Hannah Pilley (c)
Margaret Wood GK (c)
*Sophia De Magalhaes
Coach: Ryan Shiffman
Managers: Rachel Buyck (Term 2 season)
Bernadette Goulding (Term 3 season and Nationals)
Injured starters who didn’t attend Nationals:
Ruby Rimmer (injured prior to 2019 school season)
Petra Buyck (injured during 2019 club season)
Rosa Caird (injured during 2019 club season)
Kate Duncan (injured during 2019 club season)
*New to the team this year
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