The Oly Whites will get their final Olympic preparations underway tomorrow night with a match against the Japanese under-23 side.
The match will cap a remarkable year for midfielder Tim Payne, who will have represented New Zealand at every level available.
The Olympic warm-up against Japan comes one year and 12 days after Payne and his teammates were eliminated from the under-17 World Cup in Mexico.
A successful campaign helped the 18-year-old earn a trial at Blackburn Rovers and also win a place in the Junior All Whites under-20 World Cup team who competed in Colombia.
The attacking midfielder then reached the FA Youth Cup final with Blackburn's academy, made his All Whites debut in the recent win over Honduras and capped it off by being named in the Olympic squad for London.
"When I think back to the start of the under-17s to where I am right now and everything that's happened it's a dream come true," said Payne.
"Having played for the All Whites is every young Kiwi footballer's dream so it's been a big year for me.
Preparations for London enter a new phase for the side this week, with the initial focus on gelling together a squad which haven't all played together.
The Oly Whites will be without the services of West Brom striker Chris Wood and Ipswich Town defender Tommy Smith who join the team in Korea for their next warm-up match, while Marco Rojas arrives in Tokyo on the morning of the match.
Tim Myers is suffering from a virus while Dakota Lucas is carrying a knock on his ankle.
"We're juggling things at the moment," said coach Neil Emblen after the side's first training session together.
"We haven't got the full quota of players available yet and the focus is giving everyone enough time to make sure we're ready to go against Belarus on July 26.
"Japan is a very important game for us. It's important to start the programme well but it's not the be all and end all given what lies ahead.
"We'll play it a bit safe to begin with and pay Japan that respect. We saw their senior side against Australia recently and they were exceptional. We'll try and get comfortable in the match and then build on that as it progresses."
The match kicks off at 10.55pm on Wednesday night with coverage on Sky Sport 3 from 10.30pm.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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