24 Nov 2018

NZ U-17s look to create history

12:14 pm on 24 November 2018

The coach of the New Zealand under-17 women's football team says his team are well aware of the potential history they can make at the World Cup in Uruguay on Sunday morning.

New Zealand under-17 womens football team for 2018 World Cup.

New Zealand under-17 womens football team for 2018 World Cup. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Leon Birnie's side became just the eighth New Zealand team to get out of their group at a football World Cup with wins over Finland and the host nation, before a loss to a strong Ghananian outfit.

However an upset victory over Japan in their quarterfinal would make his side the first Kiwi team to not only get out of their group, but go on to win their next game.

Birnie said there's no doubt his players know what's on the line, but he's been doing his best to keep things as normal as possible in the lead-in to the match.

"I've just been pitching to the players and the staff that it's just another game.

"Yes it's a big occasion, but we just out and everything is the same. The routine on game day, what we are talking about, everything just needs to be the same.

"If we do that and go through our processes then hopefully we'll be fine on the occasion and go out there and get a result."

Making history, though, rarely comes easy and, of the challenges facing Birnie ahead of the match, one of the biggest has been keeping his team hungry to go further.

The young Kiwi side became have already achieved both their goals of winning a game and advancing past the group stage and Birnie said it's been important to refocus his players.

"What I needed to make sure was we hadn't just achieved our goals then hit a low.

"So we've spoken around what an opportunity it is, there's a bit of history to be made.

"They shouldn't need motivation for this game, that should be enough."

If that motivation materialises, expect to see a tireless effort from a New Zealand team who will run themselves ragged.

While their group stage wins over Finland and Uruguay were impressive, the classy Japanese outfit put six goals past South Africa, along with draws against Brazil and Mexico.

Birnie said Japan are a smart, technically gifted team who move very well off the ball and the message to his team had been clear.

"Tactics will only take us so far in this game and we've spoken to the girls about that.

"We're going to have to out work them and we're going to have show that typically Kiwi drive and mana and really get stuck in and fight for everything on that field."