New Zealand U-22s impress as they beat China 2-0 at Mt Smart Stadium

posted in: News

By Logan Smith

Goals from Sam Sutton and Riley Bidois have carried the New Zealand U-22 team to a 2-0 win against China at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium.

Main photo: Riley Bidois turns to celebrate his goal. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Coach Paul Temple lined up his side in a 4-3-3 formation for the game, with Alex Paulsen in goal, a back four of Sam Sutton, Finn Surman, Isaac Hughes and Ronan Wynne, Ben Old, Jay Herdman and Campbell Strong in midfield, with Oskar van Hattum, Jesse Randall and Riley Bidois making the front three.

New Zealand began the game attempting to play out from the back and keep the ball on the ground, but it was China who had the stronger start, pressing the New Zealand defence and Paulsen and using pace on attack.

New Zealand had the first big chance of the game, as an Oskar van Hattum cross found the head of Bidois, but the header crashed against the post.

From here, New Zealand shifted the tide and began to dominate the game, exhibiting patience on attack, but with neither side creating many chances at all.

As the momentum shifted, the Chinese team set into a pattern of persistent fouling, which saw Weijun Dai, Shenlong Jiang and later Yupeng He and Jiabao Wen all yellow carded in the first half.

New Zealand substitute Oskar van Hattum takes a fall. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

With the half coming to a close and New Zealand dominating, a golden opportunity came as captain Sutton was fouled by Yupeng He in the penalty area.

Sutton stepped up to take the penalty himself and duly converted at middle height to the left, making it 1-0, which was the halftime score.

China sought to start the second half with more attacking intent, with New Zealand keeper Alex Paulsen tested by a shot from Wei Zhang and a variety of crosses. In the 62nd minute, Nathan Lobo and Finn Conchie came on for New Zealand, replacing Sutton and Campbell Strong.

New Zealand was once again starting to dominate the game and doubled the scoreline in the 69th minute.

Ben Old fearlessly dribbled towards the middle of the Chinese defence, before slipping a well-weighted ball towards Bidois, who took a touch and coolly finished past keeper Jiaqi Han.

New Zealand would continue to dominate for a period after this, while Noah Karunaratne and Joe Lee came on for Oskar van Hattum and Ben Old.

From the 80th minute, China finally showed some of what they had to offer, with Haijian Wang forcing a good save out of Alex Paulsen. Dan McKay and Zac Zorocich got on for New Zealand, replacing Finn Surman and Jay Herdman.

The Chinese attack, including Mingmin Cai and We Zhang, continued to threaten the New Zealand goal, but ‘keeper Paulsen made mostly routine saves to keep them out.

After five added minutes, the final whistle blew to confirm a deserved 2-0 win for the New Zealand team.

New Zealand

New Zealand’s starting line-up. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.


China’s starting line-up. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.


Game played on Thursday March 23, 2023

New Zealand U-22 2 (Sam Sutton 44′ pen, Riley Bidois 69′)
China U-24 0


Games to be played on Sunday March 26, 2023

New Zealand U-22 v China PR
Sky Stadium, Wellington, 12.30pm (NZT)

All Whites v China PR
Sky Stadium, Wellington, 4pm (NZT)


Tickets are available from $20 to $80 (adult) and $10 to $40 (children aged 2-14).

Logan Smith

Logan Smith is a passionate football fan and volunteer, based in Dunedin, covering the Southern League.

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