The Ferns will play a pair of trans-Tasman internationals against ninth-ranked neighbours Australia in Canberra on 13 and 16 June and then travel on to meet world champions Japan – who are ranked third in the world –on 20 June.
The majority of the Football Ferns will return to New Zealand at the end of May and a squad will travel for the three international matches.
After implementing a new system of play in the recent Cyprus Cup, New Zealand coach Tony Readings says the Australia and Japan fixtures will have a clear focus as they continue towards the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015 and Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro a year later.
“Cyprus was a bit experimental, this is a step up from that tournament,” Readings says.
“Japan is one of the best teams in the world, and playing matches against this level of opposition will help our preparation for big tournaments.
“To progress to the latter stages of the pinnacle events we will have to beat teams like Japan. We’ve been on the cusp of doing this in recent years and playing them more often will help push our performances to another level. The long term aim is to be able to beat these teams on regular basis.”
New Zealand last played Australia in May last year and drew 1-1 and lost 2-0 in Wollongong.
“The games against the Matildas will have something extra on it because any game we play against the Aussies has extra pressure to do well.”
The Football Ferns are back among the world’s top 20 nations after equalling their highest ever position in FIFA’s world rankings released in March.
New Zealand moved up one spot from December to 20th position, reaching the same mark they briefly achieved in March 2005.
However, the Ferns’ tally of 1802 rankings points is their highest ever and puts them just three behind 19th placed Finland.
Story courtesy of New Zealand Football.
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