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Kiwis to lock horns with the Samba boys today

THE ASIAN AGE. | KABEER KHAN
Published : Sep 28, 2017, 12:47 am IST
Updated : Sep 28, 2017, 12:48 am IST

Max Mata, who will lead the New Zealand colts expressed his excitement over playing in India for the first time.

The action in Under-17 Fifa World Cup gets underway in Mumbai with the first practice game between Brazil and New Zealand, which will be free of cost for spectators.
 The action in Under-17 Fifa World Cup gets underway in Mumbai with the first practice game between Brazil and New Zealand, which will be free of cost for spectators.

The teams of Brazil and New Zealand have arrived in Mumbai and will be playing the first practice match on Thursday at the Mumbai Football Arena, Andheri at 5 pm. It is not just the fans that are buzzing with excitement but the coaches and players have shown similar zeal, as they will be playing for the first time on Indian soil.

The revamped DY Patil Stadium will host its first U17 World Cup game on October 6 hosting eight matches, including the semi-final. But before the tournament begins, the city’s football buffs will get to see two practice games including Thursday’s match and one that will be played on October 1 where England will face the Kiwis.

 Max Mata, who will lead the New Zealand colts expressed his excitement over playing in India for the first time.

“Because of our geographical location, we don’t get a lot of international exposure. We are excited to play on the Indian soil where we will face a top team like Brazil. The whole team is charged up for the game,” said the 16-year old.

“We have spent a brief period of time here and we are slightly acclimatised with the conditions,” the skipper further said.

 The Brazilian side emerged victorious in the U-17 South American Football Championship earlier this year but it has been a while since they have lifted the U-17 World Cup, with the last victory coming in 2003. When asked about the same, Brazil coach Carlos Amadeu said, “Our aim is develop the players and shape them for the future and of course, winning a trophy at this tournament will be positive for us.”

 The Brazilian gaffer has tipped New Zealand as a tough contender of Group B despite the Kiwis lacking international exposure. The last time the two sides met was in the Round of 16 of the previous edition of the tournament where Brazil had won the match with a slender margin of 1-0. “They triumphed over a strong Paraguay last time and even this year, they could very well rise as the dark horses,” said Carlos.

 The Kiwis will play two games at the DY Patil stadium including the opener against Turkey on October 6.

 The star attraction of Brazil Vinicius Junior, who was signed by Real Madrid, will be arriving on Saturday to train with the squad before the team leaves for Delhi where they will be playing their opening game against Spain on October 7.

 The good news for the city’s football fanatics is that the tickets for the practice games will be free of cost.

Dinesh Nair, trustee, Mumbai Football Arena, said, “We will not be charging an entry fee to the football enthusiasts from the city as we want to give them an opportunity to watch the future stars live in action.”

 “This will also help in the build up to the mega event and we at the Mumbai Football Arena are proud to play host to these practice games. The Brazilian and England teams are some of strong contenders and football fans can come and enjoy watching the games free of cost,” Nair further stated.

 Brazil is also expected to play another practice game against a local club, either Indian Navy or Air India from Mumbai or Pune City FC on September 30, but nothing is finalised yet.

Tags: mumbai football arena, dy patil stadium