All Whites U20 will out for redemption following shock loss to the Solomon Islands Mamula in 2005.
Fulham reserve team midfielder James and Sydney FC winger Brockie shape as key members of the 22-man squad eyeing the June 30-July 22 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada.
Strong rookie seasons for the All Whites have earned the duo nominations for the Nike International Men’s Young Player of the Year Award to be announced at Thursday night’s New Zealand Soccer Annual Dinner in Auckland.
Coach Stu Jacobs is to cull two players from his U-20s squad before the January 19-31 Oceania tournament.
The squad is predictably built around the side that secured New Zealand’s first series victory over the Young Socceroos in Australia in May and includes 14-players taken to October’s Agribank Cup Invitational in Vietnam in a Jacobs-coached New Zealand ‘A’ team.
New Zealand will finalise their preparation at Porirua’s Ole Soccer Academy from January 7-17 before relocating to Auckland ahead of their tournament opener against the Solomon Islands on January 19.
Jacobs side then face Samoa (Jan 23), Fiji (Jan 25), Tahiti (Jan 27), Vanuatu (Jan 29) and New Caledonia (Jan 31) in the winner takes all round-robin.
New Zealand will be out for redemption in Auckland after embarrassingly failing to advance beyond the group stages at the last Oceania U-20 Championships in 2005 following shock losses to Fiji and hosts, the Solomon Islands.
Jacobs, co-coach with Clive Campbell in 2005 – is confident there will be no repeat in January after the build-up his side has received this year.
“Some people didn’t think this was going to be a great age-group but to be fair it has turned out quite a strong group,” Jacobs said.
“The tournament in Vietnam just confirmed where we’re at from a coaching point of view. Even though there were times when we were under the cosh, we hung in there and four or five players really put their hands up.
Th fisrt game of Oceania U-20 Men’s World Cup qualifying tournament that will stage in Auckland will between the host and the Brazilians of the pacific.