5 Jul 2016

Football Ferns squad named for Rio

1:14 pm on 5 July 2016

An experienced New Zealand women's football team has been named for the Rio Olympics.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee confirmed the women's side at a special assembly held at Avondale College in Auckland, with coach Tony Readings naming a vastly experienced squad for the upcoming Games.

Football Ferns pose for the Rio team photo at Avondale College in Auckland. Tuesday 5 July 2016. © Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

The Football Ferns pose for the Rio team photo at Avondale College in Auckland Photo: Photosport

The Football Ferns, ranked No.17 on the FIFA world rankings, will face the defending Olympic champions USA in pool play, as well as Colombia (ranked No.24) and France (No.3) when their campaign begins on August 3 in Belo Horizonte.

The New Zealanders will look to better their quarter-final appearance at the 2012 London Olympic Games and contend for a medal at Rio.

Readings said selecting the 18-strong squad and four travelling reserves was the hardest during his time in charge of the national team.

"This will be my third Olympic Games, along with some of the players, and this has definitely been the toughest squad to choose," said Readings.

"There have been some players who have been very unfortunate to miss out and that just shows the depth of our squad."

Football Ferns captain Abby Erceg in action against Australia

Football Ferns captain Abby Erceg in action against Australia, Auckland, 2015 Photo: Photosport

Seven players in the squad - captain Abby Erceg, Anna Green, Amber Hearn, Ria Percival, Kirsty Yallop, Katie Duncan and Ali Riley - travel to Brazil for their third Olympic Games.

Five of the squad have played 100 games or more for New Zealand - Erceg (126), Duncan (née Hoyle) (115), Hearn (112), Percival (116) and Riley (101) - while Yallop will play her 100th game if selected for the team in the opener of the Olympics against the USA.

There are a number of others - Annalie Longo (91), Betsy Hassett (91), Rosie White (81), Sarah Gregorius (78) and Hannah Wilkinson (74) - who have been regulars in the team over the past eight years or more, helping the team climb to their highest ever FIFA ranking.

Readings said experience was one of the most important factors for big tournaments, with the most successful sides at major events being the oldest, with the most experience.

"Having girls who have been to three Olympic Games, to numerous age group world events, means they have been there and done it before," he said.

"That experience will be a key factor when we get to the Olympics, no doubt."

Meanwhile, two of the other players, Jasmine Pereira and Meikayla Moore, are heading to the Olympics for the first time. Katie Bowen was in the travelling reserves for the 2012 London Olympics but is selected in the squad for the first time at a Games.

High Performance Sport New Zealand Chief Executive Alex Baumann passed on his congratulations to the team and noted the positive performances from the New Zealand women's side in the lead-up to the Games.

"We believe this is one of our strongest football squads to attend an Olympic Games," Baumann said.

"The team continues to track well, as reflected in the FIFA rankings, and is producing consistent performance against top 10 teams," he said.

"I would like to congratulate all the athletes selected here today and wish Tony and the team every success in their preparations for Rio."

NZ Football women's Olympic squad (Club - NZ unless noted, Caps and Goals for New Zealand)

Katie Bowen (FC Kansas City, USA, 37, 1)

Katie Duncan (vc) (FC Zurich, Switzerland, 115, 1)

Abby Erceg © (Western New York Flash USA, 126, 6)

Anna Green (Malbackens IF Sweden, 60, 7)

Sarah Gregorius (Speranza FC Osaka-Takatsuki, Japan, 78, 24)

Betsy Hassett (Werder Bremen, Germany, 91, 8)

Amber Hearn (USV Jena, Germany, 112, 50)

Annalie Longo (Cashmere Technical, 91, 8)

Meikayla Moore (Norwest United, 14, 0)

Erin Nayler (Norwest United, 40, 0)

Ria Percival (USV Jena, Germany, 116, 11)

Jasmine Pereira (Three Kings United, 18, 0)

Ali Riley (FC Rosengard, Sweden, 101, 1)

Rebecca Rolls (Three Kings Utd, 22, 0)

Rebekah Stott (SC Sand, Germany, 49, 4)

Rosie White (Liverpool FC, England, 81, 14)

Hannah Wilkinson (University of Tennessee, USA, 74, 23)

Kirsty Yallop (Malbackens IF, Sweden, 99, 12)

P Athletes (Travelling Reserves):

CJ Bott (Forrest Hill Milford United AFC, 3, 0), Daisy Cleverley (Forrest Hill Milford Utd AFC, 3, 2), Victoria Esson (Ferrymean Bays, 0, 0), Paige Satchell (Three Kings United, 1, 0)

New Zealand Women's Draw at the Rio Olympic Games

August 3 v USA at Belo Horizonte

August 6 v Colombia at Belo Horizonte

August 9 v France at Salvador

New Zealand striker Sarah Gregorius runs with the ball against Australia at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne on 7th June 2016. Brendon Ratnayake / www.photosport.nz

New Zealand striker Sarah Gregorius runs against Australia, Melbourne, 2016 Photo: Photosport

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