Ford Football Ferns head coach Jitka Klimková has named a strong 23-player squad for the SheBelieves Cup (18-24 February NZT), headlined by the return of senior defender Rebekah Stott.
Stott returns to the squad following successful treatment after being diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma a year ago.
After being told on the day of the Ferns’ opening fixture at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games against Australia that she was in remission, Stott has impressed with her performances for Melbourne City in the A-League Women, and Ford Football Ferns head coach Jitka Klimková is thrilled to be able to call her up.
“This goes beyond football,” she says.
“Stotty’s situation is very unique – very few players have gone through what she has and returned to international football.
“She is a fighter. We all hoped and believed that she would come back, and watching her performances each week for Melbourne City has shown what a role model she is.
“She means so much to this team and we’re honoured to have her back,” says Klimková.
Wellington Phoenix captain Lily Alfeld becomes the club’s first Ford Football Ferns call up, as she returns to the squad for the first time since the China tour at the end of 2019.
In other squad news, Stott’s club teammate and A-League Women’s leading goal scorer Hannah Wilkinson, Ford Football Ferns veteran Abby Erceg, forward Emma Rolston, and Perth Glory defender Liz Anton all return. Anna Leat and Rosie White are unavailable for selection for personal reasons.
“Being able to bring players of Abby Erceg’s experience and Hannah Wilkinson’s goals, is a powerful thing for the squad,” says Klimková.
While continuing to develop the squad is one important aim of this international window, the three-game SheBelieves Cup also serves as vital preparation for the group stages of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, says Klimková.
“We want to build on the progress we made in 2021,” she says.
“The SheBelieves Cup offers us a diversity of opposition to play against in a short space of time. Our goal here is to finish in the top two – the equivalent of getting out of the group at the World Cup.
“It won’t be easy – Czech Republic and Iceland are very competitive, while the USA is the number one-ranked side in the world – but this will be invaluable experience in our preparations for kicking off our home world cup in July next year.”
The Ford Football Ferns squad for the SheBelieves Cup (player; club; caps/goals):
Lily Alfeld; Wellington Phoenix FC, NZ (0/0)Victoria Esson; SC Sand, Germany (4/0)Erin Nayler; Umeå IK, Sweden (74/0)Elizabeth Anton; Perth Glory FC, Australia (5/0)CJ Bott; Unattached (31/1)Katie Bowen; North Carolina Courage, USA (77/3)Claudia Bunge; Melbourne Victory FC, Australia (5/0)Abby Erceg; North Carolina Courage, USA (144/6)Meikayla Moore; Liverpool FC, England (48/3)Ali Riley; Angel City FC, USA (140/1)Rebekah Stott; Melbourne City FC, Australia (81/4)Ashleigh Ward; Actonians LFC, England (1/0)Ria Percival; Tottenham Hotspur FC, England (157/15)Daisy Cleverley; Unattached (16/2)Betsy Hassett; Stjarnan, Iceland (126/14)Malia Steinmetz; Western Sydney Wanderers FC, Australia (4/0)Olivia Chance; Celtic FC, Scotland (26/1)Ava Collins; St John’s University, USA (4/0)Jacqui Hand; Unattached (4/1)Gabi Rennie; Arizona State University, USA (7/2)Emma Rolston; Unattached (8/6)Paige Satchell; Sydney FC, Australia (23/2)Hannah Wilkinson; Melbourne City FC, Australia (100/26)
Hannah Blake; University of Michigan, USA (5/0)
The Ford Football Ferns will play in the SheBelieves Cup against the USA, Czech Republic and Iceland, in a round robin format from 18-24 February (NZT).
VS Iceland Kick off 5pm 17 February / 2pm 18 February (PT/NZT) Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, California
VS USA Kick off 12pm 20 February / 9am 21 February (PT/NZT), Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, California
VS Czech Republic Kick off 5pm 23 February / 12pm 24 February (CT/NZT), Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
Article added: Tuesday 08 February 2022
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