John Herdman's Junior Football Ferns became only the fifth team from New Zealand to play at a world finals when they qualified for the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Russia 2006. It was the Kiwis' first-ever appearance at a global women's youth finals and when Herdman named the youngest squad in the tournament's history - including three 15-year-olds - many tipped them to be endure an uncomfortable baptism.
As it was, after the disappointment of a 3-0 loss to Australia in their opening match, New Zealand excelled, coming from two goals down to take their Russian hosts within seconds of a deserved draw before claiming a prized point against the mighty Brazil. In doing so, the Young Football Ferns became only the second side in New Zealand's history to avoid defeat at a FIFA finals.
Such is the extent of their dominance in Oceania that the OFC opted merely to elect the Young Football Ferns' as the continent's representatives rather than force Herdman's side through a qualifying competition. The result is that little has been seen of the Kiwis in competitive action since Russia 2006, although nine players from the squad who travelled to that tournament - including the trio of then 15-year-olds, Annalie Longo, Caitlin Campbell and Merissa Smith - still qualify to compete in Chile.
Herdman himself, meanwhile, continues as coach, despite having been promoted to take charge of the senior women's national team at last year's FIFA Women's World Cup, a tournament to which he took eight of his Russia 2006 contingent.
With New Zealand competing in, and hosting, the inaugural FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup just weeks before its U-20 counterpart kicks off, a clutch of potential Chile 2008 stars will be on show to the world ahead of the U-20 showpiece. Herdman has said: "The women's is on the cusp of something really special and we are hoping that with some credible performances on the world stage, our senior side can lead the game in New Zealand into a new era."
The quick facts
Ali Riley, Emma Humphries and Kirsty Yallop (all 2006)
Annalie Longo, Caitlin Campbell and Merissa Smith
The numbers game
16.6 - the average age of New Zealand's Russia 2006 squad, making them the youngest team on display.