Author Topic: Soccer women step out with new name - Football Ferns  (Read 885 times)

Offline David

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Soccer women step out with new name - Football Ferns
« on: September 04, 2007, 07:03:55 AM »
The New Zealand women's soccer team, sporting their new moniker of the Football Ferns, head to China tomorrow and the World Cup, where they are hoping for lightning to strike.

The New Zealanders are at lengthy odds to progress from a group that also includes Brazil and Denmark, both ranked in the top 10, and hosts China.

Coach John Herdman said the amount of preparation his 21-player squad had undergone couldn't compare with that of the bigger countries.

The likes of China, Brazil and the world No 1 the United States had played more matches in the past month than New Zealand had managed all year.

But there was confidence among his players and staff that they had done everything possible going into the tournament.

"The reality for us is that we want lightning to strike in these games," he said.

"We want try to cause an upset, whether that's a narrow loss against China in front of their home fans, or an equaliser against Brazil in the last minute, or a really positive performance in the game against Denmark."

Herdman's squad, skippered by Swedish-based defender Rebecca Smith, has a youthful look to it, with two-thirds of the party being under 25.

The youngest is 16-year-old Auckland midfielder Annalie Longo, who was just 15 when she made her international debut against China last November.

The most experienced is Upper Hutt forward Wendi Henderson, 35, who has made 55 appearances for New Zealand.

Henderson is the only survivor from the country's one other foray into the World Cup finals, in the inaugural tournament in 1991.

In a touch of deja vu, the hosts that year were also China, and New Zealand's opponents included Denmark and China.

They ended up losing all three matches, the third against Norway.

This time around, New Zealand's campaign opens against Brazil at Wuhan on September 12.

They play Denmark at the same venue three days later, before travelling to Tianjin to face China on September 19.

The top two from the group will go through to the knock-out quarterfinals.

The New Zealanders' build-up in recent months has included outings against quality opposition – two internationals against both Canada and Australia, and a fixture against the United States.

They lost all five, giving them a firm idea of what awaits them as they try to produce that spark of inspiration that might turn a World Cup encounter their way.

Herdman said that, win, lose or draw, he was certain his players would give their all.

"We may not be the flashiest team, we may not be the most technically gifted, but we'll be giving that little bit extra," he said.

"We've got nothing to lose and everything to win."

The name Football Ferns for a side once known as the Swanz was chosen after a public competition run in association with a Sunday newspaper.

New Zealand Football's head of women's football, former international Michelle Cox, said what was sought was a name that was "sassy and upbeat".

The team have also been given a new strip designed especially to fit the female body.