Westlake Boys riding high in group games at schools’ world cup in China

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Auckland’s Westlake Boys High School need to beat Saudi Arabia to secure second place in their group at a secondary schools world cup tournament in China.

Representing New Zealand at the International School Sport Federation (ISF) Football World Cup in Dalian, China, the Aucklanders have so far beaten Uganda and Hungary in their group, but need the win against Saudi Arabia to overhaul them on the group table.

Main photo: The Westlake Boys High squad. 

Going into the tournament, the New Zealand team was unseeded, drawn in a pool of five teams with Uganda, Hungary, England and Saudi Arabia.

After three intense games in three days, the New Zealand side can go into the play-offs for a top 9-16 spot at the 36-team tournament if they beat Saudi Arabia.

The tournament format has no round of 16, meaning only one team from the eight groups goes forward to the quarter-finals.

Regardless of results from here on, the New Zealanders have earned huge respect with their pool play performances to date, claiming six from nine available points with a positive goal difference of +4 and they have represented their country with real pride in the face of adversity, travel and fatigue.

The Westlake team prepares to be led out for the opening ceremony at the tournament.


Game played on Sunday May 19, 2024

New Zealand 6 (Carlos Takayama 3, Jack Young, Troy Putt 2, including pen)
Uganda 3

Game one presented a huge challenge against a fast, physical and aggressive Uganda, stacked with 1v1 players.

The game started slowly for the Kiwis who showed a few nerves going 1-0 down early.

However, the boys showed enormous resilience, bouncing back to lead 3-1 at halftime.

Carlos Takayama made it 1-1 with a great header from a set piece.

Skipper, Jack Young then scored from a corner three minutes later to see the Kiwis take the lead and never let it go.

Takayama completed the rousing first-half comeback, making it 3-1 with a superb one-on-one finish as he rounded the keeper.

The second half was a tough period as the Ugandans came out firing.

Troy Putt extended the lead, making it 4-1 before the Ugandans fought back to make it 4-2 with a stunning 40-metre free kick.

The Kiwis dug in, Troy Putt iced a penalty to make it 5-2 after being brought down in the box, before Carlos Takayama completed his hat trick with a superb finish to make the final result 6-3 to New Zealand.


Game played on Monday May 20, 2024

New Zealand 2 (Nikola Stoychev, Troy Putt pen)
England 3

Day two presented an enormous challenge playing against group favourites, England.

The scoreline fails to tell the story of an intensely fought game.

The New Zealanders took the game to England, launching into a full press and trying to rattle the English players, often forcing them to play long through sheer energy and enthusiasm.

After going down 1-0 through a clever throw-in routine, the Kiwis showed incredible resilience, fight and spirit, making it 1-1 through a cracking Nikola Stoychev goal from outside the area.

England re-took the lead with a fortunate goal that lobbed keeper James Lee and bounced in off the post.

Jack Young was hacked down in the penalty area soon after, Troy Putt slotting the penalty to make it 2-2 with 20 minutes remaining.

The Kiwis kept chasing the win, pressing aggressively and opening the English up on several occasions.

With only three minutes remaining and an upset draw on the cards, the English pulled out a wonder goal with a volley top corner from 25 metres to beat the valiant Kiwis.

Whilst the scoreline shows an English win, the Kiwis showed they could compete with elite opposition on the world stage.


Game played on Tuesday May 21, 2024

New Zealand 3 (Carlos Takayama 2, Troy Putt)
Hungary 1

Game three presented a huge challenge against a physical Hungary side.

The Kiwis, determined to bounce back from day two heartbreak, were superb, again pressing with energy and trying to match a strong opponent.

Carlos Takayama scored the first goal from a corner after a Jack Young chip to the far post found Takayama’s head, slotting the finish in the bottom corner.

Troy Putt made it 2-0 soon after with a brilliant scissor kick off a long throw-in before Takayama completed his double with a tap-in after a blistering right-sided attack.

An unfortunate own goal with 25 minutes to play invited the Hungarians back into the game, but the Kiwi boys managed the game to close out a superb 3-1 win.

Group E standings

New Zealand squad

Kai Barrett
Finn Carpenter
Bill Cui (GK)
Cam Deamer
Mikey Gambitsis
Levi Hill
Ray Ishihara
Damion Kim
Jayden Kim
James Lee (GK)
Conall Mclean
Karter Mackenzie
Troy Putt (vice captain)
Matthew Rodrigues
Nikola Stoychev
Hamish Strong
Carlos Takayama
Charlie Taylor
Jack Young (captain)

Head coach: Dave Wright
Assistant coach: Nick DaleAssistant coach: Simon Tyndel
Manager: Logan Douglas

The ground facilities at the tournament venue in Dalian.

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