New Zealand are participating in their third successive Women’s Olympic Football Tournament, having also featured at Beijing 2008 and London 2012. While the Football Ferns failed to progress out of the group in Beijing, they did draw with a Japan side who would go onto be world champions three years later. That point was New Zealand’s first on the world stage at a senior men’s or women’s tournament. Four years later there was another milestone as New Zealand secured a victory over Cameroon and qualification for the knockout stage - both a first at a senior global women’s tournament – before being eliminated by eventual gold medallists USA.
The road to Rio
New Zealand were seeded into the Oceania final where they met Papua New Guinea, who had won through to the play-off by virtue of winning the 2015 Pacific Games. New Zealand secured a comfortable 7-1 first-leg away win in Lae, all but guaranteeing their progress to Rio 2016, however PNG withdrew from the second leg.
Coach Tony Readings, a former semi-professional footballer in both New Zealand and his native England, has been in charge of the Football Ferns since 2011. Readings was appointed following the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ after former coach John Herdman resigned to take charge of Canada. Readings boasts extensive experience with New Zealand women’s football, having been assistant to Herdman for the 2007 and 2011 Women’s World Cups, as well as Beijing 2008. He also coached the national U-20 side and, as senior coach, has since added London 2012 and the 2015 Women’s World Cup to a lengthy resume.
Amber Hearn, Abby Erceg, Ali Riley
1 – New Zealand have one win to their name from seven matches at the tournament, that being a 3-1 victory over Cameroon in 2012.