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U-17 women set for China challenge

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A group of the country’s most promising young female players will depart for China this week with coach Leon Birnie looking to use the three-match tour to lay the foundations for a successful FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup campaign.

New Zealand will take on their counterparts from the host nation, Chile and Thailand in Weifang as the first steps are taken on the road to India 2020.

Birnie has already been hard at work identifying the players he feels can make a mark on the global stage and is looking forward to seeing how the 18 he will take to China tackle their first taste of international action.

"Preparations so far have been targeted around player identification to ensure that players across all seven federations have been viewed and given an opportunity to showcase their abilities in front of national staff," he says.

"This tour has come very early in the campaign but it’s a fantastic opportunity for the players. Since the invitation to attend, we have prepared extremely well to make sure we maximise this experience, both on and off the field, for both players and staff."

Birnie is expecting his talented young squad to be tested by all three opponents, with the hosts likely to provide a particularly tough challenge.

"We are expecting three challenging games with contrasting playing styles, which is ideal. It will give the group some excellent learning and reflection opportunities," he says.

"China is ever present at U-17 World Cups and, on paper, we would envisage this being our biggest challenge. That said, it will be interesting against Chile and Thailand to see what challenges they bring and how we adapt, especially with no opposition preparation being able to be undertaken."

Aside from learning more about the talent he has at his disposal, the tournament provides Birnie with a perfect opportunity to establish some key elements.

"The focus of this tour will be on building foundations for the future around our team culture, style of play and giving players clarity around their individual attributes," he says.

"The experience that players gain from international games and tours is invaluable for their development and I know the players are excited and grateful for this opportunity."

New Zealand will compete in the CFA Team China International Women’s Youth Football Tournament at the Weifang Olympic Sports Park Stadium from 17 - 21 July.

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