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Football Ferns to tour Thailand

Rosie White in action for New Zealand 'A' against Thailand last year. Credit: Photosport

Fresh from testing themselves against the best team in the world, the Football Ferns have another enticing challenge on the horizon after confirmation of a two-match tour to Thailand next month.

Tony Readings’ side will take on their Thai counterparts in a pair of ‘A’ internationals on November 25 and 28 in Bangkok with kick-off times and venues still to be confirmed. After six months of inactivity post the Cyprus Cup in March, Readings is relishing the prospect of taking to the field again so soon after a similar trip to the United States.

“It’s really good for us to have the opportunity to build on some of the things we managed to achieve in the USA,” he says.

“It was obviously a really tough tour because you’re playing against the best team in the world away from home. But we took some massive learnings and we made some steps towards where we want to be in 2019,” he adds.

“We’d lost a bit of momentum after the 2016 Olympic Games with only one tour in 12 months so to be able to build on the USA tour and get that momentum back is going to be important for us.”

The results didn’t quite go the way of a revitalised Football Ferns group in the States as a promising 3-1 loss to the reigning FIFA Women’s World Cup champions in Denver was followed with a 5-0 defeat a few days later in Cincinnati. But it was always going to be extremely difficult for 19th-ranked New Zealand against the world number one and Readings is expecting his players to be able to express themselves more fully against Thailand, ranked 10 places lower than the Ferns.

“It’s important for us that we’re playing a mixture of teams between now and the World Cup in terms of style and quality. They don’t come any better than the USA away from home so, in those types of games, you’re getting tested defensively and your transition has to be impeccable, otherwise you get exploited,” he says.

“Against Thailand, all of those areas are going to be tested again but we also hope we can assert ourselves with the ball a bit more and maybe dictate the pace of the game – a bit like the USA did to us. I know Thailand are going to be doing everything in their power to stop that and enable themselves to do it. We know it’s still going to be a challenge but we hope we can put some of our learnings into action and learn more about ourselves on the ball.”

Thailand are no strangers to the Kiwi camp after travelling to these shores to take on a New Zealand ‘A’ side last December. The hosts won all three matches of that tour in Auckland – 3-2, 2-0 and 3-1 respectively – but Readings has plenty of admiration for the Thai approach.

“Looking at what we’ve faced against them in the past, they’re a team that does want to play football – they try to build possession from the back and look to hurt you with the ball. Where they were most dangerous when we played them was on the counter attack because they had a lot of pace up front. When they do win the ball they can hurt you really quickly and we’ve just faced that against America so we know it’s an area we need to work on.”

In contrast to taking on a team of the USA’s quality, Readings says the Thailand tour will offer his squad the chance to take a more self-centred approach.

“When you’re playing against the likes of the USA you do have to put a little bit of the focus on them because they’re going to hurt you if you don’t. Moving forward, we want to make sure we start turning the focus more and more on ourselves because we don’t really get the chance to work with our players as much as a lot of the other countries do,” he says.

“We’ll definitely show Thailand the respect they deserve and do all the due diligence in the background that we normally do but when we get there the focus will be on us.”

Match Schedule

Thailand vs New Zealand
November 25
Venue and kick-off time TBC

Thailand vs New Zealand
November 28
Venue and kick-off time TBC

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