Wellington Phoenix continues to present excellent pathways to professionalism for young footballers, with four academy players named in the latest New Zealand Men’s U-17 squad.
Liberato Cacere, Willem Ebbinge, Oliver Whyte and Jake Williams have been selected for the forthcoming OFC U-17 Championship in Tahiti as part of a squad of eighteen players, alongside four players who also featured for Wellington Phoenix in the National Youth League through a joint-partnership with Auckland-based Onehunga Sports.
The squad will gather in Auckland on 3 February for a short training camp before departing for Tahiti on 7 February. New Zealand have been drawn in Group B alongside Fiji, Solomon Islands and Samoa, with the top two sides at tournament’s end qualifying for the FIFA U-17 World Cup to be held in October in India.
Wellington Phoenix General Manager David Dome was pleased by the selections, expressing his hopes that the International call ups would help aide the players’ footballing development.
“These boys have been making great strides within the Wellington Phoenix Academy environment under the tutelage of Andy Hedge and his staff,” said Dome.
“To be selected to represent their country is a terrific honour and the experience will hopefully help accelerate their professional development.
“It’s our aim as a club to bring through the best and brightest young players in New Zealand, and in a few years’ time we’d love to see some of these boys progressing to earn full-time contracts and knocking on the door of A-League team selection.”
New Zealand Men’s U17 Squad
Dylan BENNETT Onehunga Sports (NZL)
Liberato CACACE Wellington Phoenix Academy (NZL)
Matthew CONROY Forrest Hill Milford (NZL)
Ben DEELEY Auckland Grammar School (NZL)
Oliver DUNCAN Brisbane Roar (AUS)
Willem EBBINGE Wellington Phoenix Academy (NZL)
Matthew JONES Canterbury United (NZL)
Zac JONES Wellington Olympic (NZL)
Elijah JUST Western Suburbs (NZL)
Max MATA Onehunga Sports (NZL)
Matthew PALMER Fencibles United AFC (NZL)
Joshua ROGERSON Western Suburbs (NZL)
Kingsley SINCLAIR Onehunga Sports (NZL)
Jordan SPAIN Canterbury United (NZL)
Charles SPRAGG Western Springs AFC (NZL)
Leon VAN DEN HOVEN Onehunga Sports (NZL)
Oliver WHYTE Wellington Phoenix Academy (NZL)
Jake WILLIAMS Wellington Phoenix Academy (NZL)