New Zealand U-20 women’s coach Gareth Turnbull has named an experienced side for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France next month.
The 21-women squad includes seven players who have Football Ferns caps – Liz Anton, Anna Leat, Paige Satchell, Malia Steinmetz, Hannah Blake, Sarah Morton and Maggie Jenkins – for the tournament which will be held in the towns of Vannes, Concarneau, Saint-Malo and Dinan / Léhon from 5 – 24 August.
New Zealand will open their tournament on 6 August against the Netherlands, then meet hosts France on 9 August (both in Vannes) before they take on the African champions Ghana in their final pool game in Concarneau on 13 August (all NZ times).
Turnbull, the manager of the Future Ferns Domestic Programme (FFDP), said his team is looking forward to the challenge of competing against some of the world’s best. He is confident his squad, which will be captained by Steinmetz, can turn some heads.
“We are pleased to have the calibre of players that we have,” said Turnbull. “A lot of these girls have experienced a world stage before with an U-17 or and U-20 cycle so we have a strong group which we are going to need to play against some strong opponents.
“We are coming up against some of the world’s best nations who have really strong women’s programmes so this is an opportunity for all of the group to benchmark themselves against some of the best teams in the world and see where they are at.”
Turnbull believed the fact that many of his squad have experienced a win at an age group FIFA World Cup – the NZ U-17s defeated Jordan in 2016, while the NZ U-20s beat Ghana – will be a big factor as they look to upset the bigger nations. He expected the players who have represented the Football Ferns will be natural leaders.
“They will gravitate to a more senior role with the group both on and off the pitch. These girls have proven themselves domestically now for some time so we are looking to them to drive us forward. I am sure they are looking forward to pitting themselves against some of the best players in the world.”
here are also some new faces in the set-up. Tiana Hill, a defender from Claudelands Rovers, has never played for New Zealand at any level, while Dayna Stevens and Una Foyle have played at qualifiers and this will be their first World Cup.
Four players – Leat, Jenkins, Aneka Mittendorff and Gabi Rennie – will also be eligible to play for the NZ U-17s when they compete in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Uruguay.
The performance of the team will also be a stepping stone for the Football Ferns within the group with many pressing for inclusion in the Ferns team to compete at next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, should New Zealand win the OFC Nations Cup in November.
“We are using the mantra of ‘A day at a time’ which will help us live in the now,” said Turnbull. “We have an idea of what we will face. We want this team to be expressive and show their qualities and we want them to be brave. Every team has some weaknesses as we will look to exploit those.”
Five players – Sarah Morton, Anton, Grace Jale, Satchell and Blake – return for their second FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and will also look to add their experience and leadership to the group.
It was a special announcement for the Morton family with Sarah, who made her debut for the Football Ferns against Japan in June, named alongside her younger sister Rose for the first time in a New Zealand U-20 squad.
Saskia Vosper, who represented NZ at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Jordan in 2016, was ruled out with a fractured foot.
New Zealand came close to making the round of 16 two years ago in Papua New Guinea. The Leon Birnie coached side defeated Ghana 1-0 in their opening game in Port Moresby, but went down to the USA and France to miss out on the playoffs.
New Zealand’s best performance in the FIFA U-20 World Cup remains the quarterfinal appearance in Canada in 2014 when the Aaron McFarland coached side went down to 4-1 to eventual finalists Nigeria.
The New Zealand U-20s booked their place in the FIFA U-20 World Cup when they went through the OFC U-19 Championship in 2017 undefeated, scoring 48 goals and conceding only one.
The New Zealand U-20s will depart for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup on 26 July.
New Zealand squad for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France
Elizabeth Anton (Western Springs AFC)
Hannah Blake (Three Kings United FC)
Claudia Bunge (Glenfield Rovers AFC)
Michaela Foster (Hamilton Wanderers AFC)
Una Foyle (Coastal Spirit FC)
Jacqui Hand (Eastern Suburbs AFC)
Tiana Hill (Claudelands Rovers)
Grace Jale (Eastern Suburbs AFC)
Maggie Jenkins (Glenfield Rovers AFC)
Rebecca Lake (Coastal Spirit FC)
Anna Leat (East Coast Bays AFC)
Nicole Mettam (Eastern Suburbs AFC)
Aneka Mittendorff (Forrest Hill Milford United AFC)
Rose Morton (Western Springs AFC)
Sarah Morton (Western Springs AFC)
Nadia Olla (Western Springs AFC)
Gabi Rennie (Waimakariri United AFC)
Paige Satchell (Three Kings United FC)
Malia Steinmetz (Forrest Hill Milford United AFC) ©
Dayna Stevens (Glenfield Rovers AFC)
Samantha Tawharu (Forrest Hill Milford United AFC)
FIFA U-20 World Cup – New Zealand’s fixtures in GROUP A (All NZT)
New Zealand v Netherlands
6 August 2.30am
Stade de la Rabine, Vannes
New Zealand v France
9 August 5.30am
Stade de la Rabine, Vannes
New Zealand v Ghana
13 August 2.30am
Stade Guy-Piriou, Concarneau