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Football Ferns to meet USA

The match will be played at Busch Stadium, St Louis on Saturday 4 April (Sunday 5 April, NZ time) as both nations continue their preparation for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada in June.
New Zealand Football High Performance Director Fred de Jong said the opportunity to battle the United States once again underlines the direction of New Zealand’s elite sides under the Beyond Football High Performance Plan.
“The Football Ferns performances and results in recent times against some of the top nations have consequently earned these types of fixtures against the best sides in world football at what is a key time – shortly before a World Cup tournament,” de Jong said.
“This game again ticks all the boxes from our perspective. It comes against the strongest possible opposition and allows Tony and the team the chance to measure how they are tracking towards their World Cup targets in June.”
Football Ferns coach Tony Readings says April’s clash is ideal for his side with the World Cup kicking off less than two months after the game.
“It’s something we’ve been speaking about for a long time now,” Readings said, “and that’s playing against the best teams.”
“You just keep on testing yourselves against the teams that you want to be playing at the latter stages of the tournament. They [don’t] come much better than the USA.
“This is a great opportunity so close to the World Cup to take another step forward and learn what’s working and what still needs work. The good thing is we play this game in April and we still have a couple of months to get those things right. It’s a really good game with really good timing for us.”
Securing the glamour fixture at what is an important time for the world’s best sides highlights the standing of the 18th-ranked Football Ferns with Readings delighted his players will get to add to their ever-growing pool of experience against the best nations.
“For us it’s another game against one of the best teams in the world which is what we’re used to now.
“We’re consistently playing against this level of opposition so we’re amassing a lot of caps now as a team. Over the last two years, we’ve been able to amass that against the best teams so we are getting not only experience, but quality experience as well. Which is what is going to be required when we get to the World Cup.”
The last meeting of the two countries came in October 2013 as the Football Ferns were beaten 4-1 in San Francisco before a 1-1 draw was played out in Columbus and Readings says there were clear lessons from those encounters which will serve the Football Ferns well in April.
“Those games probably signified a lot of what it takes when you play against that level of opposition. In the first game we didn’t play as well as we could whereas in the second game we learned from that and were a lot better.
“One of the key things for us now is going to be, against this level of opposition, creating more chances and when we do, being able to capitalise on them.”
The two sides also met in the quarter-finals of the London Olympics where the United States were 2-0 winners.
United States v Football Ferns
Saturday 4 April, Kickoff time 2.30pm (Sunday 5 April, 7.30am NZ time)
Busch Stadium, St Louis, USA
Courtesy NZ Football Media

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