Football Ferns coach Tony Readings is calling for more from his London-bound side as they look to close out a two match series against China at North Harbour Stadium tomorrow night.
New Zealand’s 3-1 victory over the 18th ranked Chinese on Sunday was their first in 13 attempts – breaking a 12 match losing streak dating back to the 1991 Women’s’ World Cup and extending their own unbeaten run to seven internationals.
The Football Ferns dominated all but 20 minutes of the first test and could have won by a greater margin but Readings is warning that China will offer a much sterner challenge in the rematch.
“China will be hurting after the loss and they will come out firing tomorrow night, I’m sure,” Readings said.
“We played well on Sunday but we need to go up a gear if we want another result against them.
“More importantly, we need to keep improving in every area and in each of our remaining six matches before the Olympics if we are to become a team that can win six matches in London and achieve our goal.”
The Football Ferns have two matches in Australia next week before naming their 18 man Olympic squad on June 29 and will play a quadrangular tournament in Switzerland en route to London, where they meet hosts Great Britain, Brazil and Cameroon in Group E of the 12 nation Olympic finals.
Readings will have close to a full squad to choose from tomorrow night with striker Hannah Wilkinson likely to be available for at least some of the match after missing Sunday’s outing with a quad strain. Captain Rebecca Smith is still managing a knee injury and may not be used for the full match.
Meanwhile, after scoring New Zealand’s third goal in Sunday’s win, Amber Hearn now has the chance to carve out a place in Football Ferns history. Her 29th international goal equalled Wendy Sharpe’s 18 year old record and her next strike will claim the outright lead among Ferns goal scorers.
The match kicks off at North Harbour Stadium at 7.30pm.
Football Ferns v China
North Harbour Stadium, Auckland
Live on Sky Sport 1
Admission: $15 adults; $5 students and children under 15.
New Zealand (from): 1-Jenny BINDON (GK), 2-Ria PERCIVAL, 3-Anna GREEN, 4-Katie HOYLE, 5-Abbey ERCEG, 6-Rebecca SMITH (captain), 7-Ali RILEY, 8-Hayley MOORWOOD, 9-Amber HEARN, 10-Sarah GREGORIUS, 11-Kirsty YALLOP, 12-Betsy HASSETT, 13-Rebekah STOTT, 14-Holly PATTERSON, 15-Emma KETE, 16-Annalie LONGO, 17-Hannah WILKINSON, 18-Katie BOWEN, 19-Kristy HILL, 20-Rebecca ROLLS (GK).
Coach: Tony READINGS
China (from): 1-ZHANG Yue (GK), 2-CHEN Miaomiao, 3-SONG Xiangjie, 4-LI Jiayue, 6-REN Guixin, 7-GAO Qi, 8-FENG Yadi, 10-MA Xiaoxu (captain), 11-LOU Jiahui, 12-ZENG Ying, 14-LIU Shukun, 15-XU Yanlu, 16-WANG Xin, 17-PANG Fengyue, 18-HAN Peng ,19-ZHOU Feifei, 21-WANG Lisi, 22-WANG Fei (GK), 23-GONG Qian, 25-ZHANG Rui.
Coach: LI Wei