Erceg: We sent a message

Football Ferns captain Abby Erceg. Photo by Photosport

Captain Abby Erceg says after letting one slip against Denmark on Tuesday, the Football Ferns were glad they took care of business on Thursday night in Belek.

Recovering from a 1-0 deficit conceded in just the fifth minute, the New Zealand side recorded a 3-2 win, the team’s first over the 16th-ranked nation.

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“We thought we should have won that first game so to come in and win the second game is a really positive thing for us,” Erceg said.

“It sends out a really strong message to the rest of the teams in our World Cup group as well. We wanted to start off this year really well and I think we’ve achieved that. We’re all really happy and obviously ending the tour with a win is the best way to go.”

Erceg said Thursday’s result was achieved despite a slow start which left the side facing a 1-0 deficit after just five minutes.

“We had a bit of a shaky start. We’re playing around with formations and things like that. We’re shaking things up a little bit and it shows a little bit of character from us as well that we can come back. We don’t have to be ahead to win a game, we can come back and win games from behind as well.”

The work the side of have been doing in the attacking third showed out in Thursday’s win with Erceg saying the team need to continue to display that composure in front of goal if they are to make the kind of noise they want at June’s FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament in Canada.

“Going to a World Cup and having such high expectations, we want to be able to beat top 10 teams and to do that you need to score goals.

“So that has been one of our focuses and putting away three goals is obviously a step in the right direction. On the flip side of that, we’ve let in a few goals as well so if we can cut those down and keep the scoring going I think we’ll be on the right track.”

The trio of New Zealand scorers came from each unit on the pitch – and in Longo, a substitute on the day – and Erceg says that balance and growing squad depth will continue to be explored in the coming months.

“I think our team is really strong at the moment,” Erceg said.

“There’s a lot of competition within the team for positions and Tony is trying to see different combinations and what works and what doesn’t. Different players bring different strengths as well. I think just [we’re] finding the right balance of what works and what doesn’t and we’ll find that out over the next couple of tours.”

Erceg noted the special contribution of her defensive unit mate, with the captain playing alongside Percival for the majority of the fullback’s 99 games to date.

“Anyone who takes a corner wants to score from one. If you can score direct, why not do it?,” Erceg joked.

“She’s quality and scoring in your 99th game is pretty special. The next one coming up will be really special for her as well and I’m really excited. I’ve just gone through that myself and it’s quite a big deal.”

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