Friday 24 May 2019, 19:48

New Zealand: Five reasons to be hopeful

  • New Zealand recorded their biggest win in U-20 World Cup history

  • Forward Ben Waine contributed a brace

  • Captain Joe Bell: "We’ve got a lot of confidence as a team"

There are few more positive ways to start a FIFA U-20 World Cup than New Zealand did against Honduras in Lublin on Friday, putting away five unanswered goals and breaking their tournament scoring record in the process.

Undoubtedly, their tremendous performance already puts them in an excellent position to qualify for the knockout stages. spoke with two of the stars of their impressive victory, Kiwi captain Joe Bell and forward Ben Waine, who bagged a first-half brace. The satisfied pair shared five reasons why they are hopeful about the rest of New Zealand’s campaign.

1. A unique team

“We have a unique team culture and identity,” said Bell. “It’s something I don’t think other teams have; it’s something we can trust in. We’ve been working hard on this aspect, and it’s definitely one of the main reasons we think we can do well.”

Sarpreet Singh of New Zealand is mobbed by team mates 

2. Tip of the iceberg

“There’s been a lot of work behind the scenes that you don’t see,” explained Waine. “We’ve been here for two or three weeks, and that was reflected in our performance – it was exactly what we wanted.”

Players of New Zealand celebrate victory 

3. Confident coaching

“We’re a small country, but the boys are very confident and self-assured,” continued Bell. “We’ve got a lot of confidence as a team, and that shows in the way we play. Des [Buckingham] has been fantastic in boosting our confidence levels and allowing us to express ourselves out on the pitch. I think that’s pretty unique. Sometimes in this kind of environment there’s a lot of pressure to perform, but all of the guys are sure of themselves and I think you’ll see that again in the next two games.”

Ben Waine of New Zealand celebrates scoring

4. Family feel

“There’s a real family vibe in our camp,” said Waine. “We all feel like we’re in it together, you know? Sometimes that’s not the case within some teams, but Des and his staff have worked really hard with all of the guys. You could say we’re almost like brothers, and I think those kinds of bonds will serve us well.”

Ben Waine of New Zealand celebrates victory with his family

5. Fun on the field

“We had a lot of fun out there,” added Bell. “Obviously it’s a great moment, not just at the tournament but also in everyone’s football careers so far, but we just went out and played our game. It’s only a football match, and at the end of the day we enjoyed ourselves and showed the world what we could do as players and as a team.”