The Football Ferns know they have to beat Austria overnight (NZ time) to have any chance of winning the Cyprus Cup.
The World 19 Ferns came together for their first game since the Rio Olympics in Larnaca and went down to Scotland when the World No 21 scored twice in the final 10 minutes to secure a 3-2 win.
There were plenty of positives from Tony Readings’ side who adopted a new attacking formation but ultimately they were frustrated to not get anything from the match.
CJ Bott came on at half-time at right wing back and made a good impact – setting up the final goal of the match with a perfect cross which striker Amber Hearn headed home – and she said the team had little time to dwell on that loss. The focus has been on turning it around and securing three points against Austria who last year qualified for the 2017 European Championship.
Bott, who has played four internationals for New Zealand since making her debut in 2014, said there was noticeable improvement throughout the match and she expected them to be better in the second game.
Listen to audio from an interview with Football Ferns defender CJ Bott
“It was disappointing to lose first-up and it is always unfortunate to fall behind in a good battle, but we definitely went from strength to strength in the match,” said Bott. “We improved on what we wanted to as the game went on.”
Bott, who played a leading role for Forrest Hill Milford United in their first-ever Women’s Knockout Cup triumph last year, was pleased with the impact she made from the bench when she came on for Ria Percival when the match was 1-1.
“I knew what I wanted to do. I thought I did alright. I brought a good attacking focus to the game but there are definitely improvements to be made.”
Football Ferns coach Tony Readings knows there are improvements to be made. He described the World No 24 Austria as “an emerging team and have some key players that we need to nullify”.
“A lot of our focus is on recovery,” said Readings after the opening game. “We worked very hard [against Scotland] we pushed all the way to the end. The rest of our time is going to be a mixture of looking at Austria and also looking at our own performance. We will look at giving another couple of players an opportunity. We have said it before but we want to win every game but at the same time we are building towards our next major event which is in 2019.”
The team have done plenty of research on Austria, who drew 0-0 with the Korea Republic in their first game, since their opener against Scotland. But the focus in the Ferns is more on their own team and how they can execute better and finish their chances.
“We are looking into them and their strengths,” said Bott. “But we are focusing mostly on ourselves and just try to execute a bit better with our new formation and try to break them down and score more goals.”
Bott said the Cyprus Cup – where the team plays four quality teams in a quick-fire tournament – is great for the team’s development as they rebuild for the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France and the Tokyo Olympics.
“It’s been difficult because we have only been together for a short amount of time,” said Bott. “The full squad only came together a day or two before the first game so we did pretty well. There is definitely room for improvement with knowing our roles and that sort of things comes with more trainings and game time together.”
— New Zealand Football (@NZ_Football) March 3, 2017
The Cyprus Cup is a global invitational tournament for national teams in women’s football. It has been held annually in Cyprus since 2008.
New Zealand has never won the tournament – their best result came in 2010 when they finished runner-up to Canada, losing 1-0 in the final.
Football Ferns’ fixtures at the Cyprus Cup in NZ times:
Austria Saturday 4 March 1.30am
Republic of Korea Tuesday 7 March 4.30am
Playoff match Thursday 9 March TBC