Kiwis hoping to better 2007 feat in Canada picking up no points.
FIFA U20 World Cup
29 July - 20 August 2011
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Samuel Philip Steinbock
New Zealand qualified for Colombia 2011 in emphatic fashion winning all four matches handsomely against some well-prepared opponents in the Oceania region. However, the Kiwis have surprisingly participated in only one previous FIFA U-20 World Cup, that being four years ago in Canada.
They put up a brave fight out there but left without a point to their name and only scoring one goal, Jack Pelter collecting the Junior All Whites only goal at this level against a Javier Hernandez inspired Mexico who ran out 2-1 winners.
But against their Oceanic opponents, they have fared a lot better, including beating New Caledonia 10-0 and a 6-0 semi-final victory over Fiji. Overall, they scored 22 goals in just four qualifying matches, conceding just the one.
Many believe this is one of New Zealand's most accomplished all-time youth teams, with the squad used in qualifying featuring eight players drawn from professional clubs, including All White squad members Marco Rojas and Luke Rowe. And with Chris Milicich as coach, he brings a wealth of experience plus the knowledge garnered during a highly successful stint at the helm of Waitakere United while taking the Auckland-based club to the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup.
The Kiwis demonstrated typical proficiency from dead-ball situations in the qualifying matches, but it was in attack where they unexpectedly impressed best. A number of dynamic and gifted attacking players mean the Kiwis have a variety of options going forward, most notably 2010 FIFA World Cup striker Chris Wood.