Westlake Boys ‘proud’ to finish in top half of secondary schools world cup

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Representing New Zealand, Westlake Boys High School have claimed 13th place at the ISF World Cup in China.

The team beat Belgium in their last game to finish in the top half of the international tournament for secondary school teams.

Having finished second in their group, Westlake beat Kenya and Belgium in the play-off stages.

The team were given little chance by tournament organisers who seeded the New Zealanders 28th of 36 teams in the competition before a ball was kicked but the Aucklanders finished with five wins and two losses (one on penalties) from their seven games.

Head Coach Dave Wright said: “These players have been absolutely phenomenal. We have now been away for two weeks, and the ISF World Cup has been an incredible test against various playing styles from Europe, Africa and the Middle East.”

He said the players and staff could be proud of their efforts.

“We have made a big statement for New Zealand football here, pushing England all the way, claiming five wins and taking the Germans to penalties,” he said.

“From the outset, we had a clear campaign goal: to optimise the environment for our boys to excel, give them the best chance to perform and enjoy their experience.

“Making the top 16 was a huge result, but going beyond that is something we are so proud of.

The staff haven’t rested, have managed recovery, medical, opposition analysis, review and preview of every game and we left no stone unturned to ensure our players could perform.

“They have represented New Zealand brilliantly and I am immensely proud of what we have achieved on this tour.”

Pre-game stretches for the Westlake team.

In their final games, Westlake faced Kenya and Belgium.

After narrowly losing to Germany on penalties on day 6, the New Zealanders were drawn against Kenya in the next round.

The Kenyan side were physically large, exceptionally quick and their stamina meant the Kiwi side were under pressure for most of the game.

A superb Ray Ishihara goal in the 5th minute gave the Kiwis the lead. However, from there, it was backs-to-the-wall as the Kenyans ran, rotated and peppered the New Zealand side with long balls.

The back line, led by skipper Jack Young, repelled the Kenyans and put bodies on the line.

A collective defensive effort from Westlake saw them close out a hard-fought 1-0 win. The match was as intense as the players had ever played and they got the rewards for their determination and resilience.

As a result of the win, the Kiwis faced Belgium in their final game, who came out in a 1-3-4-3 shape and as expected, played attractive football, moving the ball with quality into some highly technical and physically strong front players.

Several of the young players on the team stepped up with Karter Mackenzie and Levi Hill both putting in their best performances in a Westlake shirt.

Again, the New Zealanders took a well-earned lead. Troy Putt scored his seventh goal of the tournament after the Kiwis pressed the Belgians successfully, forcing an error which Putt pounced on, beating the keeper at the near post with a cool finish.

Leading 1-0 at halftime, the Kiwis were in control when the Belgians received a controversial penalty. Locked 1-1 with 18 minutes to play, the Kiwis emptied the bench and pushed for the win, but the stalemate was forced to penalties.

Westlake ‘keeper, James Lee got the shootout off to the perfect start, saving the first shot with a strong dive to his left.

From there, the Kiwis were on top. Despite the Belgian keeper making a fine one-handed stop, the Belgians pushed their next penalty wide, leaving striker Ray Ishihara on the spot to win the game and he smashed his penalty home for the win.

The tournament over, the team were to spend a day in Beijing, and heading to see the Great Wall of China, before landing at Auckland Airport on Tuesday May 28.


Game played on Saturday May 25, 2024

New Zealand (Westlake Boys) 1 (Ray Ishihara 5′)
Kenya 0

Game played on Sunday May 26, 2024

New Zealand (Westlake Boys) 1 (Troy Putt)
Belgium 1
*Westlake won 5-4 on penalties

Final rankings

1 China/1
2 Uganda/1
3 Uganda/2
4 China/ 3
5 Croatia
6 Türkey
7 England/1
8 China/3
9 Ukraine
10 Qatar
11 Morocco/1
12 Germany
13 New Zealand
14 Belgium FL
15 Kenya
16 Czechia/2
17 Guinea
18 Saudi Arabia

19 Benin
20 Morocco/2
21 Thailand
22 Bulgaria
23 Namibia
24 Turkmenistan
25 Serbia
26 England/2
27 Czechia/1
28 Brazil
29 Chinese Tapei
30 Aefe Mauritius
31 Uganda/3
32 India
33 Chile
34 Hungary
35 Mexico
36 Macao

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