New Zealand Women head coach Jitka Klimková has confirmed her 23-player squad for the upcoming two-game series against their co-hosts of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ on April 8 and 12.

Four-cap Football Fern Grace Jale returns to the squad for the first time since 2018 following an outstanding first professional season with Wellington Phoenix in which she scored six goal in the club’s inaugural A-League Women season.

Senior defender Anna Green returns to the squad for the first time since the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, while Sydney FC defender Ally Green will also join the squad for the first time as a training player.

CJ Bott is managing a hip injury, while Abby Erceg and Anna Leat are focusing on their club football, so were not available for the upcoming fixtures in Townsville and Canberra, Australia.

Klimková is pleased to have the opportunity to quickly get the side back together after the SheBelieves Cup invitational tournament in February.

“We want to continue taking steps forward,” she says.

“We took some big steps forward during the Canada and Korea Republic tours, and then as we saw in the SheBelieves Cup, sometimes you have to take a step back to take another couple of steps forward. It’s part of the journey, and with the short turnaround between the SheBelieves Cup and our series against Australia we have a great opportunity ahead.”

New Zealand finished fourth in the SheBelieves Cup, losing 1-0 to Iceland and 5-0 to winners and tournament hosts the United States before drawing their final game 0-0 v the Czech Republic.

“While we’re still exploring our player base, this tour will be focused on building on our team’s culture,” says Klimkova.

“We want to be mentally tougher when we encounter adversity.  Every team faces challenges, I think we can respond quicker and more positively when one of us makes a mistake.

“We know when we give up a goal it is often more than one player’s mistake, so we collectively need to respond better and more quickly. If we can improve in this area it will be very impactful throughout the 90 minutes.

“We also want to focus on possession and breaking lines, as well as improving our decision making and building connections and variations in how we play in the final third.”

New Zealand Women squad for Australia series (player; club; caps/goals):

Lily Alfeld; Wellington Phoenix FC, NZ (0/0)
Victoria Esson; SC Sand, Germany (5/0)
Erin Nayler; Umeå IK, Sweden (76/0)
Elizabeth Anton; Perth Glory FC, Australia (7/0)
Katie Bowen; North Carolina Courage, USA (80/3)
Claudia Bunge; Melbourne Victory FC, Australia (7/0)
Anna Green; Unattached (78/7)
Meikayla Moore; Liverpool FC, England (51/3)
Ali Riley; Angel City FC, USA (143/1)
Rebekah Stott; Melbourne City FC, Australia (84/4)
Ashleigh Ward; Actonians LFC, England (1/0)
Olivia Chance; Celtic FC, Scotland (28/1)
Daisy Cleverley; Unattached (19/2)
Betsy Hassett; Stjarnan, Iceland (128/14)
Grace Jale; Wellington Phoenix FC, NZ (4/2)
Ria Percival; Tottenham Hotspur FC, England (160/15)
Malia Steinmetz; Western Sydney Wanderers FC, Australia (5/0)
Ava Collins; St John’s University, USA (4/0)
Jacqui Hand; Unattached (6/1)
Gabi Rennie; Arizona State University, USA (10/2)
Emma Rolston; Avaldsnes IL, Norway (10/6)
Paige Satchell; Sydney FC, Australia (26/2)
Hannah Wilkinson; Melbourne City FC, Australia (103/26)

Match details

New Zealand Women play a two-game series with fellow FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 co-hosts Australia in Townsville and Canberra.

April 8, 2022 kick-off 9.45pm (NZT). Venue: QCB Stadium, Townsville

April 12, 2022 kick-off 9.45pm (NZT). Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra.