Football Ferns begin world cup build-up with series against Canada

The Football Ferns will travel to take on heavyweights Canada in a two-game away series next month, NZ Football has announced.

The Kiwi women will square off with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold-medallists in the capital of Ottawa on October 24 (NZ time), before heading to Montreal for a rematch on October 27.

The series will be the Ferns' first under new head coach Jitka Klimkova and will also kick-off their preparations for the world cup on home soil in 2023.

"To play our first game against the Olympic champions is a great way to get started," says Klimkova.

"Even though there are many challenges to playing games at the moment, it is also a no-brainer. We want to play games, and we want to play games against the best – because this is what can make us better much quicker.

"I'm excited to get the squad together, to get on the field and to get to work. This is the start of our campaign for our home World Cup."

Due to MIQ restrictions in New Zealand, the playing squad and staff will be drawn predominantly from those based in Europe and North America.

Canada are a familiar opponent to the Football Ferns, with the two sides having met 13 times previously, drawn against each other in the group stages of the 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women's World Cups.

The teams last met at an invitational tournament in China in 2019, where Canada prevailed 2-0 over the Kiwis.

NZ Football chief executive Andrew Pragnell says the fixtures against the sixth-ranked Canadians are a sign of what's to come for the Football Ferns, as they prepare to co-host the sport's international showpiece with Australia in July-August 2023.

"We're delighted to have secured this series against Canada," says Pragnell.

"Despite the challenges posed to international football by the COVID-19 pandemic, it's vitally important that we are able to get Jitka and the squad together, and begin planning a route to success in 2023.

"Our expectation is that all future international windows for the Football Ferns will be filled, and filled with high quality opposition.

"The preparation for our opening game at Eden Park starts now, and opponents don't get much higher quality than Olympic Gold medallists."