March 23, 2012
AUCKLAND – Football Ferns fullback Ali Riley has ended her time in the football wilderness after signing for leading Swedish club LdB FC Malmö.
Riley, a two-times WPS all-star, 2010 Rookie of the Year, and American WPS champion last season with Western New York Flash, found herself without a club to play for when the WPS took a shock season hiatus for 2012.
But with the Swedish Damallsvenskan set to begin, seven times champions Malmö were quick to snap up the jet-heeled Riley and hope to play to receive clearance in time to field her in the Swedish Super Cup against Göteborg FC on Monday (NZT).
Her contract lasts until the Olympics, which Riley and her New Zealand teammates can qualify for by winning a two legged playoff against Papua New Guinea. The first leg is on Saturday March 31 in Whangarei with the away leg on April 4. The team assemble in Auckland next week.
Riley had been training with a Frauen Bundesliga club in Germany to keep match fit but any potential move was thwarted by the closing of that league’s transfer window before her arrival.
But with the Damallsvenskan rated as one of the top female professional leagues in the world rivalling the Frauen Bundesliga and WPS, Riley was looking forward to the new challenge.
“I think it will be exciting. I always wanted to play abroad and when the American League (WPS) was cancelled I hoped to get the chance to play in Sweden,” Riley told Skansen.se.
“Malmö have a good reputation and I look forward to making my new city proud.”
Malmö have also been chasing continental honours but were yesterday knocked out of the UEFA Women’s Champions League in the quarterfinals by a FFC Frankfurt side featuring New Zealand teammate Ria Percival.