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Japan encounters for New Zealand sides

The All Whites’ fixture in Tokyo on March 5 against the World Cup bound Samurai Blue honours an agreement to reschedule an international friendly from which New Zealand reluctantly withdrew due to safety concerns after the tragic earthquake that struck the country in March 2011.
The new match, that last to be played at the National Olympic Stadium, will act as a farewell to the home of Japanese football before the venue is demolished and rebuilt in time for the 2020 Olympic Games.
“Given the empathy New Zealanders felt, and still feel for what their country went through in the tragedy of 2011 it was a tough decision, albeit the right one, to pull out of the match,” said New Zealand Football High Performance Manager Fred de Jong, “and its great now three years later to be able to restore the fixture to the calendar.
Meanwhile, the Football Ferns’ meeting against the World Champions Nadeshiko in Osaka on May 8 adds to a growing rivalry between the two teams who met four times since 2008 with a pair 2-1 wins to Japan and two draws.
The second of those draws, a 1-1 affair played out in Fukuoka in June was part of a memorable year that included a bevvy of positive results against top tier nations. The draw against the third ranked Japanese was perhaps only topped by a season-capping 1-1 draw with world number one USA and the wins over Brazil and China to lift the Valais Cup.
De Jong says both fixtures are important steps on each team’s road to respective World Cups.
“The Ferns have been making impressive progress towards their goals of being present at the business end of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and 2016 Rio Olympics and the support from High Performance Sport New Zealand helps us give them the diet they need of top quality matches like this one.
“We won’t be in Brazil next year, so our All Whites programme shifts focus towards Russia 2018 and what the shape of that team will be.”
De Jong also said that it was too early to say whether a permanent head coach would be in place for the All Whites in time for the March fixture given a review of the last campaign was underway.
“The review will influence what the role looks like when we advertise but regardless of whether it’s the permanent or interim coach in charge in March, the match is a valuable opportunity for the All Whites programme.”
Match Details
Men’s ‘A’ International
Japan v New Zealand
National Olympic Stadium
Tokyo, Japan
March 5, 2014
Women’s ‘A’ International
Japan v New Zealand
Kincho Stadium
Osaka, Japan
May 8, 2014
For more on New Zealand football go to www.nzfootball.co.nz

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