Football Ferns coach Andreas Heraf has named an experienced squad to face the World No 11 Japan in Wellington next month.
The Ferns, who will take on the Nadeshiko in an international friendly on 10 June at Westpac Stadium, will be playing for the first time at home in three years and for the first time in the capital in 27 years.
Heraf is looking forward to taking on the 2018 AFC Women's Asian Cup Champions as they continue their build-up to FIFA Women's World Cup Qualification in New Caledonia in November.
“We know that we will have a very tough challenge on our hands when we play Japan in Wellington next month,” said Heraf.
“Knowing about the high quality of the runners-up from last year’s World Cup and missing a few very important players in our team due to injuries will make it very difficult for us. Nevertheless we will try to compete with one of the world’s best teams, hopefully supported by a big crowd at Westpac.
“This is an important game for us in terms of preparing us for the challenge we expect to face if we are to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in France next year.
“We still have a long way to go to be ready for the World Cup next year and to achieve our big goal to reach the round of last 16, but I am convinced that we will get closer and closer with every tour we work together.”
Heraf has named two uncapped players in his 21-strong squad. Goalkeeper Nadia Olla and defender Sarah Morton come in for their first camp with the Football Ferns.
Meanwhile, experienced forward Rosie White returns from a foot injury alongside pacey winger Paige Satchell who has overcome a knee injury.
Defender Abby Erceg has confirmed her retirement from international football, while Olivia Chance, Ria Percival and Daisy Cleverley were unavailable for selection due to injury.
New Zealand and Japan have met eight times throughout their history with the Nadeshiko winning six of those games and the other two ending in draws, in 2008 and 2013. It will be the first time the two teams have played each other since Japan won 1-0 in Kagawa in 2015.
Heraf encouraged all football fans to get behind his team for this big challenge.
“I know all of the girls cannot wait to come home and play in front of their home fans so we are hoping to see a good crowd turn out for the first game in Wellington in a very long time.”
The international friendly will also be broadcast live on SKY Sport at 3pm.
Football Ferns vs JapanWestpac Stadium, WellingtonSunday 10 June, 3pmTickets: Adults $15, children $5 (plus booking and credit card fees)Tickets available by clicking here
Football Ferns squad for international against Japan (Club, Country, Caps, Goals)
GoalkeepersAnna Leat (East Coast Bays) 3, 0Erin Nayler (Girondins Bordeaux, France) 53, 0Nadia Olla (Western Springs) 0, 0
DefendersLiz Anton (Western Springs) 2, 0CJ Bott (USV Jena, Germany) 9, 0Anna Green (Reading, England) 67, 7Sarah Morton (Western Springs) 0, 0Meikayla Moore (FC Koln, Germany) 26, 0Ali Riley (FC Rosengard, Sweden) 115, 1Stephanie Skilton (Papakura City) 4, 0Rebekah Stott (Sky Blue FC, USA) 63, 4
Midfielders/ForwardsKatie Bowen (Utah Royals, USA) 51, 2Betsy Hassett (KR Reykjavik, Iceland) 102, 8Annalie Longo (Cashmere Technical) 105, 10Emma Rolston (Wellington United) 1, 0Paige Satchell (Three Kings United) 3, 0Malia Steinmetz (Forrest Hill Milford United) 1, 0Sarah Gregorius (Upper Hutt City) 84, 25Amber Hearn (FC Koln, Germany) 124, 54Hannah Wilkinson (Vittsjo GIK, Sweden) 86, 25Rosie White (Chicago Red Stars, USA) 90, 17Coach: Andreas Heraf
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