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Football Ferns set for qualifying test

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A place at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup goes on the line for the Football Ferns later this month in Papua New Guinea with the New Zealand squad for the OFC Women’s Nations Cup named on Monday.

Starting on October 25, the Football Ferns will have three matches against Tonga, Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands as they fight to earn a berth at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada - an event which has long been on the radar for New Zealand coach Tony Readings.

"We’ve been tracking for the last two years in preparation for the World Cup so these games are must-win for us because we’ve done a lot of good work and we want to make sure that is put to use at the World Cup next year," Readings said.

"These three games are opportunities we’re looking forward to and they are matches we want to use to progress as a team."

The challenge posed by the Oceania nations is something Readings is ready for with regular events at senior and age-group level providing a bank of experience for the players travelling to Papua New Guinea.

"We know the Island nations play a different style, we’ve played them quite a few times now over the years in senior and age-group football and they do pose a different threat.

"They are a little more unorthodox compared to teams that we’re used to but at the same time we do come up against teams like that in some of the African nations and teams from South America. It’s a good opportunity for us to keep progressing and the more different styles we can come up against the better it is for us."

After taking time out from the international arena to have her first child, Hayley Bowden - who has played 90 matches for her country - returns to the squad for the first time since the Cyprus Cup in early 2013.

"We’ve missed Hayley since she’s taken some time out," Readings said. "When she was last in the squad she showed she has a lot more to give and a lot more potential because she put in some really good performances when we came third at the Cyprus Cup in 2013.

"Hayley has been constantly in the loop and we’ve been in regular contact so her reintegration into the team has been pretty smooth. It’s just good to have another quality and experienced player at our disposal and she adds a lot to the team both on and off the pitch so it’s great to get her back in."

The team also includes three players with just one Football Ferns appearance between them with Evie Millynn joined in the squad by Daisy Cleverley and Jasmine Pereira - two players looking to earn their first senior international cap in Papua New Guinea.

Readings says the influx of talent from the age-group teams continues as the future-proofing of the Football Ferns international programme goes on.

"We’d always planned to gradually grow the depth of the team and we’ve always got that tricky balance of winning every game and also growing depth for the future in the short term and the long term.

"This year has shown that a lot of the younger players coming through have got the ability to push their way into the squad. The team is doing well now but we want that success to be long-lasting, not just for the next two years. We want it for the years to come and giving opportunities to players like Evie, Daisy and Jasmine is going to really help that objective."

Meanwhile, if selected for the opening match of the tournament against Tonga on October 25, Football Ferns captain Abby Erceg will become the first New Zealand player (male or female) to reach 100 ‘A’ international caps.

Football Ferns OFC Women’s Nations Cup 2014

October 25-29

Kalabond Oval, Kokopo, New Britain Islands, Papua New Guinea

Caps/Goals/Club

Goalkeepers

Erin Nayler - 17/0, Glenfield Rovers/NZ

Rebecca Rolls - 18/0, Three Kings Utd/NZ

Defenders

Abby Erceg (capt) - 99/4, USV Jena/GER

Meikayla Moore - 6/0, Coastal Spirit FC/NZ

Ria Percival - 91/8, USV Jena/GER

Ali Riley - 79/1, FC Rosengard/SWE

Rebekah Stott - 25/0, SC Sand/GER

Midfielders

Hayley Bowden - 90/10, Iwata Bonita/JPN

Daisy Cleverley - 0/0, Forrest Hill Milford Utd AFC/NZ

Betsy Hassett - 65/6, Manchester City FC/ENG

Katie Hoyle - 89/1, Notts County FC/ENG

Annalie Longo - 64/1, Coastal Spirit FC/NZ

Evie Millynn - 1/0, Eastern Suburbs AFC/NZ

Forwards

Helen Collins - 19/0, Claudelands Rovers/NZ

Sarah Gregorius - 53/18, AS Eflen Saitama/JAP

Amber Hearn - 85/36, USV Jena/GER

Jasmine Pereira - 0/0, Three Kings Utd/NZ

Rosie White - 58/11, UCLA/USA

Match schedule

New Zealand v Tonga

October 25

New Zealand v Papua New Guinea

October 27

New Zealand v Cook Islands

October 29

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