Football: Tom Sermanni names experienced NZ squad for World Cup

Football Ferns players against Argentina.
Football Ferns players against Argentina. Photo credit: Photosport

Football Ferns coach Tom Sermanni has named an experienced squad for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, as they aim to create history in France in June.

Seventeen of the 23 players named competed at the previous World Cup in Canada, with Ria Percival, Abby Erceg, Ali Riley, Betsy Hassett, Katie Duncan and Annalie Longo all boasting more than 100 games for New Zealand.

Olivia Chance, Victoria Esson, Nadia Olla, Paige Satchell, Sarah Morton and Stephanie Skilton have been selected for their first Women's World Cup.

The squad hope to become the first New Zealand senior team - male or female - to win at a World Cup and first to advance from the group stage.

"I am really happy with the group," said Sermanni. "We have a good balance of experienced players, who have been there and know what it is all about, and we have some young up-and-coming players to complement that.

"Those experienced players are very important for this tournament. For this particular cycle, including the Olympics, it may be the last one at this level, so it makes it critical for them.

"We are all looking forward to it, particularly in Europe. We'll get crowds who are knowledgeable and appreciate good football, great organisation and good stadiums.

"I think this will be the best World Cup so far and also the most competitive one."

This will be Sermanni's fourth women's World Cup as a coach, after leading Australia to the quarter-finals in 2007 and 2011, while he was an assistant for Canada in 2015, when the host nation also reached the final eight.

This year's World Cup will be staged from June 7-July 7, across nine cities in France. The Football Ferns, ranked 19th in the world, will take on Canada (five), the Netherlands (eight) and Cameroon (46) in Group E.

Football Ferns coach Tom Sermanni.
Football Ferns coach Tom Sermanni. Photo credit: Photosport

Other features of the squad include the return of striker Hannah Wilkinson, who has recovered from a serious knee injury, while Olla pipped U17 World Cup star Anna Leat as a back-up goalkeeper.

Sermanni praised Wilkinson’s determination to come back from an ACL injury suffered six months ago.

"She has done magnificently well, in terms of her work ethic, her focus and the way she has gone about her recovery.

"It has been a model for any young player looking to come back from a serious injury. I caught up with her last week and she is in fantastic shape.

"We still need to be careful with her, but she is looking good at this stage."

The Ferns have four warm-up fixtures scheduled before the World Cup, with the United States, Mexico, England and Wales all pencilled in.

The Football Ferns' FIFA Women's World Cup squad

Goalkeepers: Vic Esson, Erin Nayler, Nadia Olla

Defenders: CJ Bott, Abby Erceg, Anna Green, Steph Skilton, Meikayla Moore, Sarah Morton, Ali Riley, Rebekah Stott

Midfielders: Katie Bowen, Olivia Chance, Daisy Cleverley, Katie Duncan, Annalie Longo, Betsy Hassett, Ria Percival

Forwards: Sarah Gregorius, Emma Kete, Paige Satchell, Rosie White, Hannah Wilkinson

Football Ferns' Fifa Women's World Cup Group E fixtures [all NZ time]

Wednesday, June 12, 1am v Netherlands

Sunday, June 16, 7am v Canada

Friday, June 21, 4am v Cameroon

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