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Tricky group for NZ at Futsal World Cup

Futsal Whites FIFA Futsal World Cup football
The Futsal Whites have been drawn in Group D for the FIFA Futsal World Cup. PHOTO: UFA

New Zealand has been drawn in Group D alongside Spain, Kazakhstan and Libya at the 2024 FIFA Futsal World Cup.


Samarkand’s historic Registan Square provided a beautiful backdrop for the draw, which saw two-time champions Spain, world No 8 Kazakhstan, 50th-ranked Libya and World Cup debutants New Zealand drawn into the same group.


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“I think it’s going to be a very exciting and competitive group,” said New Zealand player Hamish Grey.


“You have Spain, who have already won the World Cup twice; Kazakhstan, who have done very well historically; Libya, who are one of the strongest teams in Africa; and us, who are going to be adding a different dynamic to the group since it’s our first appearance at the World Cup.


"We know every game is going to be tough, but we’ll be as well-prepared as possible. We’re looking forward to getting stuck in,” Grey said.


The Futsal Whites earned qualification to the Futsal World Cup after a hard-fought 5-0 win over Tahiti in the final of the OFC Futsal Nations Cup last year.


Futsal Whites FIFA Futsal World Cup football
New Zealand were drawn in Group D for the FIFA Futsal World Cup. PHOTO: UFA

Futsal Whites head coach Marvin Eakins was eager to continue his work with the team as they build towards the tournament.


“Three tough games but we are confident we can be competitive,” Eakins said.


“Spain are former world champions and will be a big test, Kazakhstan are a top ten team with some incredible players, and Libya are currently one of the best teams in Africa, but we have shown we can compete with sides at this level. 


“We want to be playing against the best teams in the world and this is an incredible opportunity to showcase New Zealand’s ability on the global stage.”



World No 3 Spain are favourites to top the group, but Kazakhstan could challenge them, having reached the semifinals of the 2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup.


Libya returns to the World Cup stage for the first time since 2012, however, have yet to pick up a win at the tournament. New Zealand represents Oceania for the first time, taking over from the Solomon Islands, who represented the region at the last four tournaments.


The tournament takes place from September 14-October 6 in three cities - Andijan, Bukhara and Tashkent - in Uzbekistan.


2024 FIFA FUTSAL WORLD CUP GROUPS


Group A: Uzbekistan, Netherlands, Paraguay, Costa Rica

Group B: Brazil, Cuba, Croatia, Thailand

Group C: Argentina, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Angola

Group D: Spain, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Libya

Group E: Portugal (holders), Panama, Tajikistan, Morocco 

Group F: Iran, Venezuela, Guatemala, France


FUTSAL WHITES SCHEDULE


New Zealand vs Libya Sunday, September 15, 4.30pm local (Monday, September 16, 12:30am (NZT)) Andijan Universal Sports Complex, Andijan, Uzbekistan


New Zealand vs Spain Wednesday, September 18, 7pm local (Thursday, September 19, 3am (NZT) Andijan Universal Sports Complex, Andijan, Uzbekistan


New Zealand vs Kazakhstan Saturday, September 21, 4.30pm local (Sunday, September 22, 12:30am (NZT) Humo Arena, Tashkent, Uzbekistan

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