Some of the country's top young football players will take to the pitch in Whangarei on Sunday when the Wellington Phoenix Reserves play Wanderers SC in the national ASB Premiership competition.

The match at Toll Stadium kicks off at 1pm on Sunday and wraps up round 11 of the national football competition. Entry is by gold coin donation.

The game is a prelude to the Fifa Under-20 World Cup when Whangarei will host four games.

The U-20 event will feature some of the world's top young footballers, is expected to bring up to $3.5 million to the region and expose Whangarei to thousands of foreign visitors.


Sunday's game will include players who are expected to make the New Zealand U-20 team for the competition, with both teams featuring New Zealand U-20 players who will be trying to impress coach Darren Bazeley to cement a spot in the final squad for the tournament.

The Phoenix Reserves feature current NZ U-20 players Alex Rufer, Matt Riddenton and Andrew Blake. As well, Wanderers contain current All Whites Adam Mitchell and Deklan Wynne.

Toll Stadium will host three U-20 group matches, with the first kicking off at 4pm on May 30, the second at 1pm on June 2 and the third from 2pm on June 7.

Whangarei's round of 16 match will kick off at 4pm on June 11.

Whangarei is a category 3 host city for the tournament. A Covec economic assessment report estimated $3.5 million of income for category 3 host cities, made up of $1.87 million from NZF and Fifa spending money in the city to deliver the event; $1.04 million spent by international visitors and .76 million from domestic visitors.

Category 3 regions could also expect 8927 international visitors over 90,044 visitor nights including 115 international media.

The U-20 World Cup is Fifa's second largest tournament after the Football World Cup. It will be broadcast in more than 200 countries and watched by an audience of about 500 million.

The event - which will feature 24 teams over 52 games - showcases the world's best young footballing talent and many of those taking part will already have professional contracts with some of the biggest football clubs on the planet.

The 2005 competition in the Netherlands, won by Argentina, featured Lionel Messi, the Barcelona star who is recognised as one of the best players in the world today.