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Ferns ready for Brazil challenge

The Ferns are set to make their debut at the prestigious invite-only tournament on Thursday and the New Zealand side’s growing international reputation is helping fuel their preparation for their medal tilt in Rio later in the year.
Having played against seven of the world’s top 10 nations in the past 15 months, including a win and loss in Brazil at the back end of 2015, Football Ferns coach Tony Readings said his team have crossed an important threshold in terms of their own expectations against the world’s elite sides six months out from the Olympics.
“We’re quite used to playing against this level of opposition,” Readings said.
“We’ve been quite fortunate since the last Olympics to have this investment of funding from High Performance Sport New Zealand and that’s enabled us to be a lot more selective around games.
“We’ve been able to play a lot more games against the better teams in the world and part of that is we are seen now as a more serious opponent than maybe we were in the past.
“When we go into these games now it’s not about staying close to these teams or hoping we’re going to win, it’s about how we’re going to execute to win the games and focussing solely on that.
“That’s the natural mind set of the team now and it’s a great place to be and we just want to keep building that confidence all the way to the Olympics.”
Football Ferns captain Abby Erceg echoed Reading’s thoughts, adding the team’s recent record against Thursday’s opponent gives the New Zealand side the upper hand in the preparation for battle.
“We’ve got as much information as we can and we’ve seen as much footage as we possibly could in the time we have had,” Erceg said.
“Having played them quite a few times you don’t really get surprised too often with starting line-ups and things like that. We have done a little bit of homework and changed a couple of things we want to do and hopefully that will help the result go our way.
“In recent times playing Brazil we’ve had two wins and two draws and one loss. So I think going in we have the psychological edge which isn’t a common thing we have going into games against teams at number one, two or three in the world.
“We’re going to relish that as much as we can.”
Meanwhile, midfielder Daisy Cleverley was a late addition to the squad which travelled to Portugal late last week.
Algarve Cup 2016
Brazil v New Zealand
Lagos, Portugal
Wednesday 2 March, 6.30pm (Thursday 3 March, 7.30am NZ time)
New Zealand (from): 1. Erin Nayler (GK), 2. Ria Percival, 3. Anna Green, 4. Katie Duncan, 5. Abby Erceg (capt), 6. Rebekah Stott, 7. Ali Riley, 8. Jasmine Pereira, 9. Amber Hearn, 10. Sarah Gregorius, 11. Kirsty Yallop, 12. Betsy Hassett, 13. Rosie White, 14. Katie Bowen, 15. Meikayla Moore, 16. Annalie Longo, 18. CJ Bott, 20. Daisy Cleverley, 21. Rebecca Rolls (GK), 24. Kate Loye, 25. Aimee Phillips
Coach: Tony Readings
Story courtesy of New Zealand Football

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