New Zealand are prepared for a hostile atmosphere when they play hosts Argentina in front of a 25,000 sold-out crowd at the FIFA U-20 Men’s World Cup on Saturday morning (NZT).
“Since the draw, it’s the game everyone’s been looking forward to,” coach Darren Bazeley says.
“We can’t hide from it. It’s going to be pretty hostile. It’s going to be fun.”
The teams will play their third and final pool games to decide which nations will go through to the knockout stage of the tournament from Group A.
Argentina’s place in the Round of 16 is confirmed. New Zealand needs a draw or better to be certain, but they can still go through if they lose and other results go their way.
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Extra minutes adding to players’ loading
Bazeley says the selection of his team will take into account the heavy loading on some of his players, as well as picking the line-up to suit the match.
He said the opening games at the tournament had been running at 101 or 102 minutes, taking into account stoppage time at the end of each half.
Combined with a days travel to get to San Juan for Saturday’s game, some of his players were “a bit fatigued”.
Both teams go into Saturday’s match with players on yellow cards, and if any of them collect another, they’ll be sidelined for the Round of 16.
New Zealand’s six players with single cautions are Isaac Hughes, Jackson Manuel, Ben Wallace, Dan McKay, Lukas Kelly-Heald and Everton O’Leary.
Argentina’s players at risk of bans are Mateo Tanlongo and captain Agustin Giay, while Tomas Aviles will miss the New Zealand game after his double yellow against Guatemala.
Bazeley: ‘We have to put them under pressure’
Bazeley said his team’s aim was to qualify for the knockout stages and even though four points was historically enough to go through, “we’re not taking anything for granted.”
In the other group game, a win to Guatemala or a draw would automatically send New Zealand through.
“I can’t see Uzbekistan not winning that game,” Bazeley said. “I don’t think they’ll do us any favours.”
Bazeley said his coaching staff had urged the players to see the World Cup games as “opportunities to showcase” their talent.
He said the days of New Zealand sides sitting back with a deep block, and looking to counterattack, were gone.
“If we let them (Argentina) dominate the game, they’ll hurt us.
“We have to try to put them under a lot of pressure.”
New Zealand’s opponents
Argentina are the most successful country in the history of the tournament, having won it six times, most recently at Canada 2007, when Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria were their star men.
Argentina’s coach Javier Mascherano played 147 games for his country as a midfielder, many of the games as national captain.
When his side failed to qualify for the U-20 World Cup, he offered to resign, saying: “I have to be honest and say that I’ve failed. I’m sorry for the boys, for not having been able to help them. I’m the one who came up short here and I have to take responsibility for that. I don’t think I’ll be carrying on.”
But everything changed when Indonesia were stripped of the tournament’s hosting rights, and Argentina stepped in and earned a reprieve for their team.
Player to watch: Fin Conchie (New Zealand)
Midfielder Conchie (19) came through the youth grades in the Waikato, and had two spells with Melville United before moving south to become part of the Wellington Phoenix academy, and to play for Lower Hutt City.
He has started in both of New Zealand’s games at the tournament, looking for simple but effective passes that put his forwards into space.
Of the three goals scored by New Zealand, Conchie has provided all three assists.
Player to watch: Máximo Perrone (Argentina)
Defensive midfielder Máximo Perrone (20) is on the verge of breaking through with the full Argentina national team and with his Manchester City club.
After coming through the age group ranks, Perrone was called into the senior Argentina squad for their March friendlies against Panama and Curaçao. Though he didn’t get a start, coach Lionel Scaloni clearly sees his potential.
In February, he made his English Premier League debut, replacing Manchester City’s Erling Haaland as a second-half sub in their 4-1 win at Bournemouth.
READ MORE: Late goal forces New Zealand to wait for chance to make knockout stages >>>
READ MORE: Coach Darren Bazeley on U-20 World Cup draw: ‘Unbelievable effort by the boys’ >>>>
READ MORE: Garbett goal gives New Zealand perfect start to FIFA U-20 Men’s World Cup >>>>
Game to be played on Saturday May 27, 2023 (NZT)
New Zealand v Argentina
Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario, San Juan, 9am
How to watch the game
The game can be watched on New Zealand pay channel Sky Sport or free on the FIFA+ streaming platform.
You can watch the stream here:
13 Henry Gray, Ipswich Town, England
21 Alby Kelly-Heald, Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
1 Kees Sims, Ljungskile SK, Sweden
4 Isaac Hughes, Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
2 Jackson Jarvie, Eastern Suburbs, New Zealand
20 Lukas Kelly-Heald, Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
14 Finn Linder, Vancouver Whitecaps, Canada
12 Everton O’Leary, Birkenhead United, New Zealand
3 Adam Supyk, Eastern Suburbs, New Zealand
5 Finn Surman, Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
15 Aaryan Raj, Eastern Suburbs, New Zealand
6 Fin Conchie, Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
10 Jay Herdman, Vancouver Whitecaps, Canada
7 Noah Karunaratne, Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
8 Jackson Manuel, Western Springs, New Zealand
16 Dan McKay, Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
9 Oliver Colloty, currently on trial in England
19 Kian Donkers, NEC Nijmegen, Netherlands
17 Oli Fay, Ljungskile SK, Sweden
11 Norman Garbett, Potenza Calcio, Italy
18 Ben Wallace, Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
1 Federico Gomes Gerth (Tigre)
17 Nicolás Cláa (Lanus)
12 Lucas Lavagnino (River Plate)
4 Agustin Giay (San Lorenzo)
2 Lautaro Di Lollo (Boca Juniors)
6 Valentín Gómez (Vélez)
15 Roman Vega (Barcelona)
3 Valentin Barco (Boca Juniors)
14 Mateo Tanlongo (Sporting De Portugal)
20 Ignacio Miramón (Gimnasia Y Esgrima La Plata)
5 Federico Redondo (Argentinos Juniors)
8 Maximo Perrone (Manchester City)
19 Gino Infantino (Rosario Central)
10 Valentin Carboni (Inter)
11 Matías Soulé (Juventus)
13 Tomás Avilés (Racing)
16 Luka Romero (Lazio)
9 Alejo Véliz (Rosario Central)
21 Ignacio Maestro Puch (Atlético Tucuman)
7 Juan Gauto (Huracan)
18 Brian Aguirre (Newell’s Old Boys}