Football Ferns coach Tom Sermanni says his team will receive the ultimate benchmark when they meet the best team in the world in their build-up to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The OFC Women’s Nations Cup champions will play the USA, three-time FIFA Women’s World Cup winners and defending champions, in an international friendly on 16 May at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri.
Sermanni, who coached the USA women’s national team for over a year from early 2013, is looking forward to taking on his old team as the Ferns complete their preparation for the World Cup, which will be staged in nine cities across France during June and July of next year.
“This is a fantastic fixture and a great one leading into the World Cup with it being so close to the tournament,” Sermanni says.
“It will give us a really good benchmark for where we are at and will help us in the final part of our preparation.”
The Football Ferns will meet European champions the Netherlands, World No 5 Canada and Cameroon in Group E of the FIFA Women’s World Cup as they look to pick up their first ever win in the competition. Sermanni believes taking on the tournament favourites on their home soil will be ideal preparation.
“Just the quality of the game in itself will help us first and foremost. The style of game we will face will be similar to Canada and similar to the Netherlands. There will also be a physicality to the American game that will hopefully help us against Cameroon,” he says.
“The USA are going to be a huge test for us, they are the best team in the world. They have some outstanding players and they will be ready to go at that stage, most of them will be playing in their league competitions so it will be a formidable test.”
The USA and New Zealand have met 16 times in their history, with the World No 1 having won 14, drawn one and lost just once to the Ferns.
New Zealand played the USA in two international friendlies in 2017, the Tony Readings-coached team going down 3-1 and 5-0. The previous meeting before those encounters was the opening game of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, when the USA defeated the Football Ferns 2-0 in Belo Horizonte.
New Zealand were also the USA’s opponent at Busch Stadium during the build-up to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the home team winning 4-0 in front of more than 35,000 fans.
The upcoming clash will mark 32 years since New Zealand’s only victory over the USA which came in the first match between the teams back in 1987, a 1-0 victory for the Football Ferns.
USA vs Football Ferns
Thursday 16 May, 7pm CT (Friday 17 May, 12pm NZT)
Busch Stadium, St. Louis