The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup holds special significance for New Zealand, with the Oceania nation featuring all four editions of the tournaments. New Zealand successfully played host to the first event in 2008 providing a perfect springboard for future growth of the fledgling tournament. While the Young Football Ferns were eliminated at the group stage, New Zealand did claim their maiden victory in a FIFA women's competition with a 3-1 win against Colombia. Trinidad & Tobago 2010 was, however, not as kind to the Kiwis who lost all three group games in a tough pool. History repeated two years later in Azerbaijan, with hard-fought group-stage losses against Mexico, Japan and Brazil.
The Young Football Ferns are well prepared by virtue of the team featuring in the New Zealand national league season held over the final months of 2013. Even though the team have won just one of their seven matches, they were rarely outclassed, and were the only team to defeat runners-up Northern during the regular season.
New Zealand’s development across all spectres of the game on the global stage in the past few years is undeniable. The challenge for the Young Football Ferns at Costa Rica 2014 is to be the first women’s national team to reach the knockout stage at World Cup level. Coach Jitka Klimkova, a former Czech Republic international, has enjoyed considerable success in Australia’s W-League before taking the reins of New Zealand’s youngest national team in early 2013.
|21||Courteney VAN LIESHOUT|