The road to Canada
New Zealand’s journey to Canada 2015 lasted a mere five days as the Football Ferns topped their four-nation Oceania qualifying tournament. A perfect three-match record which accrued 30 goals and saw none conceded suggests it was easy for the Kiwis. New Zealand did, however, face a significant hurdle battling oppressive midday heat and a tough opponent in host nation Papua New Guinea before eventually prevailing 3-0 in the pivotal match of the tournament. Key striker Amber Hearn profited the most in PNG scoring seven goals, while an even more notable milestone was achieved at the other end of the field as captain and central defender Abby Erceg became the first male or female New Zealander to reach 100 caps.
Strengths and style
New Zealand have come a long way on the international in recent years and it is no coincidence that the quantity of players plying their trade overseas has massively increased during the same period. The side have also enjoyed a strong international program featuring numerous high-quality matches annually. As a result the team are collectively high on experience, though still relatively youthful overall. The Football Ferns may be short on headline names, but their team unity is rarely surpassed as evidenced by numerous credible results in recent years.
Coach Tony Readings assumed the reins in the wake of John Herdman’s departure in 2011 with the latter taking over the coaching role with host nation Canada. He successfully led the team at the 2012 Olympic Games where the team reached the knockout stage of a major tournament for the first time. English-born Readings enjoyed several years at the helm of the nation’s U-20 side and thus has a strong background in New Zealand women’s football. Readings has continued to slowly reinvigorate the team, adding youth to help the depth of the squad and helping the side develop a modern brand of football while still boasting the nation’s traditional strengths.
FIFA Women’s World Cup record
- Canada 2015 will be New Zealand’s fourth appearance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and third in succession
- New Zealand have been eliminated in the group in their three previous appearances
What they said
“We’ve moved a lot closer to the best teams in the world but there’s still a lot of untapped potential in our team," Tony Readings, New Zealand coach