U-17s begin with Angola defeat

Words: NZF Media

Monday 28 October 2019

Picture: Phototek

BRASILIA, Brazil - New Zealand must bounce back from a first-up defeat if they are to progress past the group stages of the FIFA U-17 World Cup after falling 2-1 to Angola today in Brasilia.

The tournament debutants did not take long to warm to their first appearance at this level, taking an early lead when Zini met a cross with a fine header to beat New Zealand goalkeeper Alex Paulsen, who was wearing the captain’s armband for his country.

Jose Figueria’s side regathered their composure as they looked to gain a foothold and almost had their first sight of goal when only a well-timed challenge prevented Marko Stamenic from racing clear.

The turning point of the match then arrived mid-way through the half when Sean Bright appeared to be pushed over in the box by Angola goalkeeper Geovani and the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was called into action. The match officials deliberated over a decision for several minutes but the penalty appeal was eventually turned down, leaving New Zealand needing to come back from a goal down in the second half. 

Oskar van Hattum had bent a well-struck free kick just wide of the target shortly before the break and that was as close as New Zealand had come until Matthew Garbett got them back on level terms soon after the restart.

Garbett, who joined Paulsen in being among New Zealand’s best performers, displayed the full range of his skills by turning his defender before holding off a pair of challenges to squeeze a shot into the far corner.

Figueira would have hoped for his charges to then kick on and take something from the game but they went behind again in unfortunate fashion just a few minutes later, Harry Bark turning a header into his own net.

With Paulsen frustrating Angola with several fine saves, Figueira made several changes as he searched for an equaliser. Jesse Randall, Jackson Simpkin and Ben Old all entered the fray in the final 20 minutes and the former had New Zealand’s best chance to score of the second half, getting behind the Angola defence but seeing his shot blocked by Geovani.

“We’re obviously disappointed with the result, we’re really frustrated with the two goals we conceded from set plays,” Figueira said.

“And the second goal was a bit of a sucker punch when we’ve just equalised and were probably in our best moment. So it was frustrating but at the same time I’m proud that we competed, there’s enough there for us to build on and take into the next game.”

New Zealand will now take on Brazil in their second Group A match on Wednesday afternoon (NZT) and the tournament hosts will be in confident mood after dismantling Canada 4-1.

Despite the quality of the South Americans, Figueira is confident his side can bounce back and put in a competitive showing.

“We need to show a bit more game smarts and be a bit braver,” he said.

“We’ll review the game today and look at the areas in which we can improve on but this team has a lot of heart and belief and they showed enough tonight that we can put up a fierce challenge.”


Match Details
FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019

New Zealand 1 (Matthew Garbett 54’)
Angola 2 (Zini 6’, own goal 60’)
HT: 0-1

New Zealand: 1. Alex Paulsen (GK) (c), 3. Kris Naicker, 5. Adam Hillis, 6. Campbell Strong, 8. Henry Hamilton (9. Jesse Randall 71’), 10. Marko Stamenic, 11. Matthew Garbett (18. Ben Old 82’), 14. Oskar van Hattum, 15. Brad Wilson, 16. Sean Bright, 19. Harry Bark (4. Jackson Simpkin 73’)

Substitutes not used: 2. Max Drake, 7. Keegan Jelacic, 12. Luca Taylor (GK), 13. Finn O’Connor, 17. Nathan Lobo, 20. Otto Ingham, 21. Callum Kennett (GK)

Cautions: 3. Kris Naicker 14’, 5. Adam Hillis 16’, 10. Marko Stamenic 48’

Coach: Jose Figueira

This article is reproduced from the New Zealand Football website and can also be read here. 

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