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Ferns ready for Netherlands

The match, which will take place near Amsterdam during the FIFA international window, sees the No 16 ranked Football Ferns taking on the No 12 ranked Dutch side who have a point to prove.
The Netherlands narrowly missed out on a spot at the Olympics in August, but are looking longer term as they begin their build-up for the European Championship in 2017 which they will host.
The last time these two sides met, in the opening game of last year’s FIFA World Cup in Canada, the Netherlands won the contest 1-0 thanks to a brilliant strike from Lieke Martens in the 33rd minute.
Readings is keen to show the team’s improvement after competing against some of the best sides in the world in the recent Algarve Cup in Portugal where they finished fourth.
“We want to make sure every game we play, we are pushed,” he said after the team’s final training near Amsterdam. “We feel like we have got to a point now that if we play really well as a team, we can beat anyone we play, but if we don’t play well then we can come unstuck. The goal tomorrow is to play well and then go on to win the game.”
Readings said the last time they played the Netherlands, it was a close game and they were disappointed to not get anything from it.
“The teams are closely matched and play similar styles when they have the ball, and they have some good individual players who can win games if we don’t shut them down. We also learned that we kept the ball well against them and we created some chances,” he said. “We learned at the World Cup that when we have possession and dominance at times we need convert those goal scoring chances into goals, so there are some good learning there to work on.”
Readings has selected his strongest squad, built around the experienced core of professionals based in Europe, USA and Japan. He has not yet settled on his starting XI, or squad in the countdown for Rio so the Ferns know that there is plenty to play for.
“We are in a position now where we have some good healthy competition in the squad and that will push everyone and we know that we have some quality on the bench as well.”
Their final training was delayed and then completed in wet and cold conditions, but Readings is pleased with the build-up.
“Our preparation has been really good, we have one extra day than we normally have which has been good to manage the recovery of players coming from New Zealand,” he said. “The last two or three days we have come together as a group and everyone is looking forward to the game.”
The team has one further international window in June and four more games on the way to Rio for the Olympics.
Readings said the Dutch side offers some quality opposition after recent wins against France and Japan. Their world ranking, and the fact that they missed qualification for Rio, showed how well the Football Ferns have done to qualify for the Olympics.
“There are quite a few sides with the likes of England, Holland, Switzerland and Norway missing out. It is very tough for the European sides to get through. We are looking forward to the draw next week or so and then the excitement for Rio will really build.”
The Football Ferns against the Netherlands will be broadcast live on Sky Sports 3 (SS3) at 4:30am on Friday morning and replayed on SS3 at 1:30pm.
Football Ferns: (Club team, Caps, Goals)
Goalkeepers:
Victoria Esson (Ferrymean Bays, Christchurch 0/0)
Erin Nayler (Norwest United, Auckland 37/0)
Defenders:
Catherine Bott (Forrest Hill Milford, Auckland 3/0)
Abby Erceg (Western New York Flash, USA 123/6)
Ria Percival (Jena USV, GER 113/11)
Ali Riley (Rosengard, SWE 98/1)
Anna Green (Mallbackens IF, SWE 59/7)
Meikayla Moore (Norwest United, Auckland 11/0)
Midfielders:
Katie Bowen (FC Kansas City, USA 34/0)
Katie Duncan (FC Zurich, SUI 112/1)
Betsy Hassett (SV Werder Bremen, GER 88/8)
Annalie Longo (Cashmere Technical, Christchurch 88/8)
Kirsty Yallop (Mallbackens IF, SWE 96/12)
Forwards:
Sarah Gregorius (Speranza FC Osaka-Takatsuki, JPN 76/24)
Amber Hearn (Jena USV, GER 109/50)
Jasmine Pereira (Three Kings United, Auckland 15/0)
Aimee Phillips (Forrest Hill Milford, Auckland 3/0)
Rosie White (Liverpool, UK 78/14)
Story courtesy of New Zealand Football


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