The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup holds special significance for New Zealand, with the Oceania nation featuring in all five editions of the tournament. Notably, New Zealand successfully played host to the first event in 2008 helping to provide a perfect springboard for future growth of the-then 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 itself two years later in Azerbaijan, with hard-fought group-stage losses against Mexico, Japan and Brazil. New Zealand drew with Paraguay at Costa Rica 2014, but suffered 3-0 defeats against Japan and Spain, both of whom ultimately featured in the final.
The Young Football Ferns are well prepared for the world stage having played together as a development side during New Zealand’s most recent national league season. They performed with distinction against older opponents collecting several impressive results. New Zealand then participated in the Oceania qualifying campaign winning all five matches in a canter, tallying up 55 goals without reply.
New Zealand’s growth across all spectres of the game on the global stage in the past few years is undeniable. The challenge for this generation is to be the first New Zealand women’s U-17 team to reach the knockout stage at World Cup level. Young coach Gareth Turnbull will be keen to make a mark in his first tilt at global level, having impressed by winning a couple of New Zealand national league titles.