Kuggeleijn banks on home advantage
New Zealand Under-19 coach Chris Kuggeleijn hopes home advantage will give them the edge in the Under-19 World Cup beginning on Friday. New Zealand had finished third in the previous edition in Malaysia in 2008, but this time their form has been patchy - they lost a home series 1-2 to 2004 and 2006 champions Pakistan, while they lost to Bangladesh and beat England in their warm-up games.
"We got a few things right (against England) but we've just got to string it together," Kuggeleijn told NZPA. "We've got to think how can we turn that around after such a bad performance the day before ... but if we play to our potential and get things right, then we'll go pretty close."
The contracted first-class players in the current New Zealand squad - Corey Anderson, Harry Boam and Doug Bracewell - would be crucial in ensuring success, according to Kuggeleijn. It will also be the second under-19 World Cup for Anderson, Boam, and Michael Bracewell, who were part of the side in 2008.
"They'll be key figures for us with their performances on the field and within the group," said Kuggeleijn. "A guy like Corey, he's a fine talent and really clean striker of the ball who can take the game away from an opponent."
Kuggeliejn reckoned Pakistan and India were the two favourites - the two teams have won the three last three editions between them - but said Bangladesh were also a good outside bet. Reflecting on their loss to Bangladesh in the warm-up match Kuggeleijn said, "They look very well prepared, a very organised team. They go hard early with the bat and play with a lot of intent, and we just couldn't pull them back."
The hosts have been placed in Group C of the tournament alongside Canada, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka, and kick off their campaign against Canada at Lincoln 3 on January 16.