Football Ferns coach Andreas Heraf has named an experienced squad to face the World No 11 Japan in Wellington next month.
The Ferns, who will take on the Nadeshiko in an international friendly on 10 June at Westpac Stadium, will be playing for the first time at home in three years and for the first time in the capital in 27 years.
Heraf is looking forward to taking on the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup Champions as they continue their build-up to FIFA World Cup Qualification in New Caledonia in November.
“We know that we will have a very tough challenge on our hands when we play Japan in Wellington next month,” said Heraf.
“Knowing about the high quality of the runners-up from the last World Cup and missing a few very important players in our team due to injuries will make it very difficult for us. Nevertheless we will try to compete with one of the world’s best teams, hopefully supported by a big crowd at Westpac.”
Heraf said this is an important game for preparing for the challenge they expect to face, if they are to qualify, for the FIFA World Cup in France next year.
“We still have a long way to go to be ready for the World Cup next year and to achieve our big goal to reach the round of last 16, but I am convinced that we will get closer and closer with every tour we work together.”
Heraf has named two uncapped players in his 21-strong squad. Goalkeeper Nadia Olla and defender Sarah Morton come in for their first tour with the Football Ferns.
Meanwhile, experienced forward Rosie White returns from a foot injury alongside pacey winger Paige Satchell who has overcome a knee injury.
Defender Abby Erceg has confirmed her retirement from international football, while Olivia Chance, Ria Percival and Daisy Cleverley were unavailable for selection due to injury.
New Zealand and Japan have met eight times throughout their history with the Nadeshiko winning six of those games and the other two ending in draws, in 2008 and 2013. It will be the first time the two teams have played each other since Japan won 1-0 in Kagawa in 2015.
Heraf encouraged all football fans to get behind his team for this big challenge.
“I know all of the girls cannot wait to come home and play in front of their home fans so we are hoping to see a good crowd turn out for the first game in Wellington in a very long time.”
The international friendly will also be broadcast live on SKY Sport at 3pm.
Football Ferns vs Japan
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Sunday 10 June, 3pm
Tickets: Adults $15, children $5 (plus booking and credit card fees)
Football Ferns squad for international against Japan (Club, Country, Caps, Goals)
Anna Leat (East Coast Bays) 3, 0
Erin Nayler (Girondins Bordeaux, France) 53, 0
Nadia Olla (Western Springs) 0, 0
Liz Anton (Western Springs) 2, 0
CJ Bott (USV Jena, Germany) 9, 0
Anna Green (Reading, England) 67, 7
Sarah Morton (Western Springs) 0, 0
Meikayla Moore (FC Koln, Germany) 26, 0
Ali Riley (C) (FC Rosengard, Sweden) 115, 1
Rebekah Stott (Sky Blue FC, USA) 63, 4
Stephanie Skilton (Papakura City) 4, 0
Midfielders / Forwards
Katie Bowen (Utah Royals. USA) 51, 2
Betsy Hassett (KR Reykjavik, Iceland) 102, 8
Annalie Longo (Cashmere Technical) 105, 10
Emma Rolston (Wellington United) 1, 0
Paige Satchell (Three Kings United) 3, 0
Malia Steinmetz (Forrest Hill Milford United) 1, 0
Sarah Gregorius (Upper Hutt City FC) 84, 25
Amber Hearn (FC Koln, Germany) 124, 54
Hannah Wilkinson (Vittsjo GIK, Sweden) 86, 25
Rosie White (Chicago Red Stars, USA) 90, 17
Coach: Andreas Heraf