WPSS boys share their feelings leading into the U20 World Cup

Mata, van den Hoven and Singh check out the Arena Lublin ahead of Saturday.

Mata, van den Hoven and Singh check out the Arena Lublin ahead of Saturday.

The NZ U20 mens team are now in Lublin ahead of the opening game against Honduras at the FIFA U20 World Cup 2019.

After a successful preparation camp the team has travelled and are now based in the city that will host their opening game.

After training outside the venue the squad then got to look around the Arena Lublin and get used to the surroundings.

WPSS caught up with our graduates this week and found out how they are feeling leading into the tournament.

WPSS to Sarpreet Singh - This is now your second U20 World Cup. How has your role in the squad changed for this campaign given that you are now seen as a senior player in the group and what are you looking to bring to the team given your previous experience?
Sarpreet Singh - Being a senior player in the squad is different to what I am used to but it’s really exciting. I am enjoying being one of the leaders and passing on my experiences from previous campaigns to some of the players who have'nt experienced this before, we are all ready and excited for the first game. I am going to give it my all out on the football pitch and push all my team mates to do the same. That’s all we can ask for and then the rest will take care of itself. I believe that if we make sure we prepare well, do all the little things and stay together then this group can do something special.

WPSS to Leon van den Hoven - What have you learnt over the last season playing your football in Holland that you feel has prepared you well for the World Stage?
Leon van den Hoven - Playing in a professional environment over the last year has allowed me to fully focus on football at least 5 days per week. Training is always intense and competitive with players striving to earn starting spots. Playing games in a reserve league gave me an opportunity to match myself against players at eredivisie level (who were playing their way back into first teams/ coming back from injury) and I tried to take as much as I could from these games especially. Its helped being away from home for a year so being away from home in Poland is not so much of a challenge in that regard, I am very comfortable in the European environment. These experiences have made me feel confident to be able to deliver the role this U20 team needs from me and I am very excited for what we can do together in this World Cup.

WPSS to Max Mata - How have you felt the team preparation has gone in the training camp and what areas do you feel the group has improved most? What is the expectation of the group heading into the Honduras game?
Max Mata - I think the team is in a very good place now as we approach kick off. I think the team has already come a long way in the last two weeks of being together and for some players it has been the first time they have met. I think we have improved hugely on our team culture which I believe will do us big favours in tough times to come in the tournament. Our expectation is that we are to at least qualify outside the group stages. If we are to play to our potential and stick to our game plan, I think we have huge amounts of talent all over the pitch. If we can make it work on game day I think we are capable of going far and surprising a few people along the way.

WPSS wishes Miya, Sarpreet, Leon, Max and all the NZ U20 players and staff all the very best for Saturday morning. We know you will do us all proud.

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Leigh Kenyon