A new era for New Zealand’s Football Ferns has begun with new head coach Jitka Klimková naming her first squad to take on Olympic champions Canada on October 24 and 27.
The 22-strong squad features six new faces – Amelia Abbott, Aniela Jensen, Ava Collins, Jacqui Hand, Sam Tawharu and Tahlia Herman-Watt – while Hannah Blake and Maggie Jenkins, who made their debuts in 2017, return to the national team.
Centurion Rosie White has been named in the squad, after missing the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games due to illness.
Due to MIQ considerations, players based in New Zealand and Australia were unavailable for selection for this tour, while veteran Abby Erceg was unavailable for personal reasons.
Despite those challenges Klimková said she isn’t fazed.
“This is the start of our preparations for 2023, where we want to be broadening our player base and looking at who could be in the frame for our home World Cup,” she said.
“While we couldn’t select some players due to quarantine requirements on their return to New Zealand and Australia, this has opened up opportunities for others.
“I’m really pleased to be able to give more players the chance to come into the Ferns environment and see if they’re ready to make that step up into senior international football.
“We’re especially pleased that Rosie is available for selection again. Obviously it was very tough for her to miss out on the Olympic Games.”
A number of the Britain-based Ferns enter camp in rich form.
Ria Percival has twice been named in the Barclays FAWSL team of the week this season, while Meikayla Moore’s Liverpool FC have made a positive start to their campaign.
Olivia Chance has settled into life at Celtic FC with aplomb, having scored three goals and notched up three assists in her first season with the club.
22-player Football Ferns squad:
Victoria Esson, Avaldsnes IL, 3/0
Anna Leat, West Ham United, 5/0
Erin Nayler, Unattached, 73/0
CJ Bott, Vålerenga, 27/1
Katie Bowen, KC, 73/3
Tahlia Herman-Watt, Arizona State University, 0/0*
Meikayla Moore, Liverpool FC, 44/3
Ali Riley, Orlando Pride, 137/1
Amelia Abbott, University of Texas, 0/0*
Hannah Blake, University of Michigan, 2/0
Daisy Cleverley, Georgetown University, 12/2
Betsy Hassett, Stjarnan, 123/13
Aniela Jensen, University of the Pacific, 0/0*
Ria Percival, Tottenham Hotspur, 153/14
Emma Rolston, Arna-Bjørnar, 6/6
Olivia Chance, Celtic FC, 22/1
Ava Collins, St John’s University, 0/0*
Jacqui Hand, Colorado College, 0/0*
Maggie Jenkins, University of Central Florida, 1/0
Gabi Rennie, Indiana University, 3/1
Sam Tawharu, University of Iowa, 0/0*
Rosie White, OL Reign, 109/24
*Debut Football Ferns squad
Game dates v Canada:
24 October, 8:00 am (NZT), Ottawa, Ontario (TD Place)
27 October, 12.30 pm (NZT), Montreal, Quebec (Stade Saputo)