The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup holds special significance for New Zealand despite the brief history of the tournament. New Zealand successfully played host to the first edition 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 first ever 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.
The Young Football Ferns were irresistible in qualifying dominating their Oceania opposition to win all three matches by handsome margins. A variety of names found their way onto the scoresheet, while three players – Hannah Carlsen, Megan Lee, and goalkeeper Lily Alfeld – all have experience of the world stage from T&T 2010. Perhaps more can be read into their earlier internationals which saw New Zealand defeat Argentina and also record a rare win over regional rivals Australia.
New Zealand’s growth across all spectres of the game on the global stage in the last few years is undeniable. The challenge for New Zealand as they seek continued growth will be to make Azerbaijan 2012 a breakthrough tournament by qualifying for the knockout stage, with no women’s national team having yet achieved such a feat on the world stage. Coach Paul Temple has belief in the nation’s youngest national team saying they have his “confidence”. Temple, who presided over New Zealand’s impressive debut in 2008, has furthermore backed his side to make an impression. “I think we’ll be a match for anyone on our day.”
Facts and figures
Jasmine Pereira, Hannah Carlsen (both forwards), Briar Palmer (midfield)
Rosie White, Hannah Wall, Annalie Longo
29 - The number of goals the Young Football Ferns scored in their three qualifying matches.