As New Zealand prepare for their opening game at the FIFA U-17 Men’s World Cup, head coach Martin Bullock says the squad have avoided setting targets about how far they might progress at the tournament.
“Our goal, in this environment, is to produce All Whites, whether that be staff or players. That’s always our goal,” Bullock told NewstalkZB‘s Jason Pine.
Main photo: Martin Bullock … ‘we want to make people proud.’
Bullock’s team play Venezuela in their first group game at 10pm (NZT) on Sunday November 12.
Of the Venezuelans, who qualified as the fourth-ranked team from South America, Bullock said: “If you qualify out of South America, you are obviously a very good team. Germany are European champions. Mexico are CONCACAF champions.
“So we are in a tough group.
“Why don’t we want to play the best? Why are we looking for easy routes?
“Let’s play the best and see how we get on.
“It’s the way that players will learn, and I know that they’re all super-excited and looking forward to the challenge that Venezuela will give us.
“We’re looking to get something out of the game, of course we are.
“We’ve not set any targets to get out of the group; we’ve not set any targets to get in the semi-finals.
“If we do qualify for another game, it’s just another opportunity for the players to get some international on their journey to becoming All Whites.
“We want to enjoy it (the tournament) as much as we can and make people proud.”
Bullock said his squad had played a couple of warm-up games in the days leading up to the tournament, and the players would also draw on their experience in September when New Zealand played in a four-way tournament in Japan.
Venezuela won that tournament, beating New Zealand 2-0.
Listen to Martin Bullock’s interview with Jason Pine
The 10-minute interview can be heard here:
Game to be played on Sunday November 12, 2023
New Zealand v Venezuela
Si Jalak Harupat Stadium, Bandung (10pm, NZT)
Game to be played on Thursday November 16, 2023 (NZT)
New Zealand v Germany
Si Jalak Harupat Stadium, Bandung (1am, NZT)
Game to be played on Saturday November 18, 2023
New Zealand v Mexico
Si Jalak Harupat Stadium, Bandung (10pm NZT)