Head coach Darren Bazeley says New Zealand’s challenge is to get more of its young players into professional football so they can compete better on the world stage.
Speaking minutes after his side were knocked out of the FIFA U-20 Men’s World Cup in Argentina, Bazeley said:
“We’ve got, maybe, two or three professionals in our squad. The rest of our players are playing New Zealand domestic (football).
“Our challenge (is) to get as many players playing professionally as we can, and then we’ll be able to have more moments, and we’ll be able to be more consistent when we get into games like this.”
New Zealand lost their Round of 16 tie 4-0 to a clinical United States side that have now won four games at the tournament without conceding a goal.
“It’s a disappointing end for us, to get knocked out of the tournament,” Bazeley said.
“It’s been a really great experience for our players. You know, we’ve had some really good moments within the tournament.
“Today, I don’t think it was a 4-0 game. I felt like, yes, USA were a better team than us, and I felt they were really clinical in moments.
“I felt like we tried to play out; we tried to do some good things.
“We had some moments where we got into good areas and we didn’t quite have that clinicalness.”
Comparing the experience of the two teams, Bazeley pointed out that Cade Cowell, scorer of the second goal, had played more than 100 games in the MLS.
“It’s difficult for our players.
“They kept trying to score a goal all the way till the end of the game.
“We might look back and go ‘we have had one or two goals’ but overall, they (United States) are a good team, and they were better than us today.
“It’s been a really good tournament. There’s a lot of good players here.
“It’s been a platform, hopefully, for some of our players to move forward on.
“The realistic challenge for us is that we’re coming up against players that are professionals around the world in every team we play.”
“We’ve got, maybe, two or three professionals in our squad. The rest of our players are playing New Zealand domestic (football) so they have to get themselves to the next level and that’s our challenge to get as many players playing professionally as we can and then we’ll be able to have more moments and we’ll be able to be more consistent when we get into games like this.”
Bazeley said he was proud of his players.
“We competed throughout. No one let their heads go down.
“Their commitment and their workrate is enormous.”
Game played on Wednesday May 31, 2023
United States 4 (Owen Wolff 14′, Cade Cowell 61′, Justin Che 75′, Rokas Pukštas 82′)
New Zealand 0
The clubs they play for
Here’s a comparison of the squads for the match:
1 Kees Sims, Ljungskile SK (SWE)
4 Isaac Hughes, Wellington Phoenix FC (NZL)
5 Finn Surman, (captain), Wellington Phoenix FC (NZL)
6 Fin Conchie, Wellington Phoenix FC (NZL)
9 Oliver Colloty, (Free Agent)
10 Jay Herdman, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (CAN)
11 Norman Garbett, Potenza Calcio (ITA)
14 Finn Linder, Vancouver Whitecap FC (CAN)
16 Dan McKay, Wellington Phoenix FC (NZL)
18 Ben Wallace, Wellington Phoenix FC (NZL)
20 Lukas Kelly-Heald, Wellington Phoenix FC (NZL)
13 Henry Gray, Ipswich Town I ENG)
21 Albert Kelly-Heald, Wellington Phoenix FC (NZL)
2 Jackson Jarvie, Eastern Suburbs AFC (NZL)
3 Adam Supyk, Eastern Suburbs AFC (NZL)
7 Noah Karunaratne, Wellington Phoenix FC (NZL)
8 Jackson Manuel, Western Springs AFC (NZL)
12 Everton O’Leary, Birkenhead United AFC (NZL)
15 Aaryan Raj, Eastern Suburt AFC (NZL)
17 Oliver Fay, Ljungskile SK (SWE)
19 Kian Donkers, NEC Nijmegen (NED)
1 Gaga Slonina, Chelsea FC (ENG)
3 Caleb Wiley, Atlanta United FC (USA)
4 Joshua Wynder, Louisville City FC (USA)
5 Brandan Raig, Philadelphia Union (USA)
6 Daniel Edelman (captain), New York Red Bulls (USA)
8 Jack McGlynn, Philadelphia Union (USA)
9 Cade Cowell, San Jose Earthquakes (USA)
10 Diego Luna, Real Salt Lake (USA)
13 Jonathan Gomez, Real Sociedad (ESP)
16 Owen Wolff, Austin FC (USA)
17 Justin Che, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (GER)
12 Antonio Carrera, FC Dallas (USA)
21 Alexander Borto, Fulham FC (ENG)
2 Michael Halliday, Orlando City SC (USA)
7 Quinn Sullivan, Philadelphia Union (USA)
11 Kevin Paredes, VfL Wolfsburg (GER)
14 Marcus Ferkranus, LA Galaxy (USA)
15 Niko Tsakiris, San Jose Earthquakes (USA)
18 Obed Vargas, Seattle Sounders FC (USA)
19 Darren Tapi, Colorado Rapids (USA)
20 Rokas Pukstas HNK Hajduk Split (CRO)