Prospects from New Zealand’s exciting Under-20 World Cup squad could put themselves in the shop window for major European clubs, particularly if they manage to achieve Sarpreet Singh’s ambitious goal of winning the whole tournament.
Wellington Phoenix’s rising star is one of the most influential players in the team and is someone who could potentially benefit from New Zealand’s eye-catching start to the World Cup in Poland, having played key roles in wins over Honduras and Norway.
Singh’s club team-mate Roy Krishna, a player he has a strong connection with, announced earlier this week that he will be leaving the Phoenix when his current 12-month contract expires on Friday, having earned a lucrative move to an unnamed Asian club on the back of his career-best 19-goal haul.
Given the 20-year-old is one of the more promising players in the A-League — he was in the running for the young player of the year award after scoring five goals and registering eight assists during a breakout 2018-19 season — Singh could also attract overseas interest if he continues to impress against the best players his age in the world. But he is not the only one.
“I think definitely it’s an opportunity to express yourself on the world stage but that’s not something I worry about. All I want to do is do my best and do the best for the team. Those outside matters will take care of themselves as long as you perform on the pitch,” Singh told Stuff in the early hours after the team’s 2-0 win over Norway on Tuesday (NZT).
“It’s sad to see Roy go but I fully understand where he’s coming from and his decision. I respect it and good on him. He deserves this opportunity and he deserves everything because he’s worked hard for everything. Wherever he ends up I wish him all the best and I’m very grateful for him because during my time at the Phoenix he’s played a very influential role on me as a person and a player and I’ll forever be grateful for that.”
While Singh said he “a hundred per cent” wants to play at a higher level in the future, he still has another year to run on his current Phoenix contract and stressed his immediate focus is simply helping New Zealand create further history at the Under-20 World Cup. The Junior All Whites have already secured passage through to the round of 16 stages after winning their opening two games but he felt their success was limitless, even if there are much tougher tests to come.
“We were always confident going into the tournament that we had the players, the right coaching staff, the right style of play and I think we all believed in ourselves. To get two wins on the trot is a very good start and now we’re very excited about going into the next game against Uruguay. If we win that game then we’ll be top of the group,” he said.
New Zealand’s Next Game Is On Thursday At 5pm On FreeSports (Sky Channel 422, Freeview 62, Virgin 553, BT 64)