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Football: World Cup journey begins for Ferns

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Football Ferns departed Auckland on Tuesday morning bound for Japan where they’ll complete the last phase of their pre-FIFA Women’s World Cup preparation with Sunday’s match against world champions on Sunday.

Speaking shortly before the team jetted out from Auckland International Airport, coach Tony Readings said the group have spent the last few days fine tuning since the squad was named on Thursday last week.

"We’ve been working fulltime with the players in Auckland as normal," Readings said.

"We’ve had a training match against a boys team and we looked at things we wanted to nail down before we leave for Japan.

"We’ve also been making sure people are fresh and ready to go because it’s going to be a big tour in Japan and then in Canada at the World Cup itself. The final is on the fifth of July and we’re building towards that. It’s going to be long tour with plenty of trainings and matches."

Readings says the energy is building in the squad with the group focussed on making the most of the last portion of the tournament build-up.

"Every day the event itself is getting one day closer so the demands we’re placing on the players and the demands they placing on themselves are increasing. Players know that every session becomes more important between now and the World Cup and we can’t waste an opportunity. Everything is ramping up - and that’s what we want because we want to be peaking by the time we reach our first game against the Netherlands."

Before that opening match in Edmonton on June 7 (NZ time), the team tangle with Japan - ranked fourth in the world - and the New Zealand coach says the central task for his squad will be juggling the preparation required for that encounter while also maintaining focus on what lies ahead in Canada.

"The balance for us now is going to be focussing on Japan - they are the world champions - so you can’t take them lightly by any means.

"But at the same time we’ve still got to have an eye on our World Cup opponents. We challenge ourselves to make sure we know more about the opposition than they know about us so we’re working tirelessly all the time to make that happen. We’ll be working on en route to Japan, making sure we can use this leg of the tour because it’s an opportunity we can’t waste."

Readings says by the time the New Zealand side leave for Canada, he wants to see the team’s own playing system firing on all cylinders.

"There are some tactical things we want to have improved on by the time we’ve played against Japan. For us to truly perform at the World Cup the players will have to execute when they go on the pitch. The key for us is the players really embracing our style of play. If we’re going to win the World Cup we have to play our way.

"If we can come off the pitch knowing the players have done that consistently across the game against Japan it will be a good place to be because we want to be flying when we reach that first game."


Football Ferns v Japan

Marugame Staduim, Kagawa, Japan

Sunday 24 May, 7pm (10pm NZ time)

LIVE SKY Sport 1

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