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Football Ferns confident ahead of Canada

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The equation is simple for the Football Ferns as they head into their second game of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France: they must win or draw to stay in the tournament.

The Tom Sermanni-coached team were impressive in their opening game against the Netherlands in Le Havre. The World No 19 competed well for 92 minutes before conceding a goal in injury time to go down 1-0 in agonising fashion.

But the players have dusted themselves off and Sermanni said they are ready to go again. They take on World No 5 Canada at the Stade des Alpes in Grenoble on Sunday morning (NZT).

"The mood has been pretty positive," said Sermanni. "There is obviously that lingering disappointment from the Holland game but this team gets back on its feet very quickly. The players are upbeat. The training sessions in the last couple of days have had good energy, high tempo, everyone in a good frame of mind and I am pretty confident that can continue."

The Ferns have shown great resilience and quality during the past eight months under Sermanni. They have beaten the World No 3 England, World No 12 Norway, World No 26 Mexico and World No 37 Argentina in the lead-up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.

The performance against the European Champions, the Netherlands, gave the team confidence that a big result at the World Cup isn’t far away. Captain Ali Riley said there is still firm belief in the squad they can create history at this tournament.

"When you beat a team like England, or you beat a team like Norway, and the performance against the Netherlands, even though we didn’t get the result, is further evidence that we are a good enough team to be competing with the top-10 teams in the world," she said.

Canada will not be easy. The Kenneth Heiner-Møller coached team, who opened their campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Cameroon, are undefeated in their 10 games in 2019.

Sermanni, who was an assistant coach of Canada at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015, where they made the quarter-finals, knows his opposition well.

"They have a team that has several threatening players," said Sermanni. "They have pacey wingers and they obviously have Christine Sinclair who really makes it all tick, and is very much their leader.

She is still one of the best players in the world. They have got Jess Fleming who is a great little midfield player. Like Holland, they have some weapons. They are a different style of team. They are probably more robust than Holland, and Holland has the edge slightly in individual skill."

Riley, who is playing at her fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup, said her team is ready for a physical challenge from the Canadians as the Ferns’ chance to stay in the tournament goes on the line.

"That is something that we want to be known for and recognised as a team that is not going to back down from any challenge. We are going to be aggressive in the press and we will be going into tackles, but we will also be smart. We are finding that balance of being tough and aggressive, but being smart about it too."

The Football Ferns have played Canada 11 times in their history and beat them once back in 1987. The two teams met in Edmonton at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the result was a 0-0 draw. That fixture was memorable for the thunderstorms and thunder and lightning are forecast for tomorrow night’s game in Grenoble.

Match Details

Canada vs New Zealand

FIFA Women’s World Cup, Group E

Sunday 16 June, 7am (NZT)

Stade des Alpes, Grenoble

Live on SKY Sport / Prime TV

New Zealand (from): 1. Erin Nayler (GK), 2. Ria Percival, 3. Anna Green, 4. CJ Bott, 5. Nicole Stratford, 6. Rebekah Stott, 7. Ali Riley (c), 8. Abby Erceg, 9. Emma Kete, 10. Annalie Longo, 11. Sarah Gregorius, 12. Betsy Hassett, 13. Rosie White, 14. Katie Bowen, 15. Sarah Morton, 16. Katie Duncan, 17. Hannah Wilkinson, 18. Stephanie Skilton, 19. Paige Satchell, 20. Daisy Cleverley, 21. Victoria Esson (GK), 22. Olivia Chance, 23. Nadia Olla (GK)

Coach: Tom Sermanni

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