27 Feb 2020

Milestones for Football Ferns at Algarve Cup

3:10 pm on 27 February 2020

The Football Ferns squad to take part in the Algarve Cup in Portugal next week features two new faces alongside a wealth of experience.

New Zealand's Marisa Van Der Meer.

Marisa van der Meer has been selected for the Football Ferns for the first time. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The squad named by coach Tom Sermanni has a largely familiar look to it with 10 players having at least 60 caps to their name but some exciting new talent will also be on show with skillful attacker Michaela Robertson and young fullback Marisa van der Meer both earning selection.

The Algarve Cup forms a key part of the Football Ferns' preparations for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Sermanni said the scope to experiment is limited.

"It's not a time to have the luxury of being able to experiment and bring in a lot of new players but I think we've brought together our strongest group," he said.

"The challenge for us is trying to balance getting our team ready for the Olympics and what's important in doing that but, at the same time, attempting to give opportunities to players who may be on the bubble of making the squad. But every game is vital and a learning process for us to find out what we might need to tweak tactically or selection-wise."

Sermanni is excited at the potential of 23-year-old Robertson, who was selected for the previous Football Ferns squad last November but suffered an untimely injury.

Joining Robertson in potentially making a debut in Portugal is van der Meer, who is only 19 and starred in New Zealand's ground-breaking third-place finish at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in 2018.

Another member of that historic squad was goalkeeper Anna Leat, who made herself unavailable for international selection prior to last year's FIFA Women's World Cup but is back in the fold.

"She's now keen to continue her international career and that's a big boost because I think it's without argument that she's one of the best young goalkeepers in the world," Sermanni said

Another pair of milestones could also be reached on the tour with Sarah Gregorius sitting on 99 caps and Ria Percival - the highest appearance-maker in New Zealand's footballing history - three games away from hitting the 150-mark.

The Football Ferns kick-off their Algarve Cup campaign on Thursday morning against Belgium before going on to meet either Portugal or Italy and another yet-to-be-determined opponent.

The other nations competing in the tournament are Denmark, Germany, Norway and Sweden.

Football Ferns squad for Algarve Cup

Goalkeepers: Victoria Esson, Anna Leat, Erin Nayler

Defenders: CJ Bott, Claudia Bunge, Meikayla Moore, Ali Riley, Stephanie Skilton, Rebekah Stott, Nicole Stratford, Marisa van der Meer

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

Forwards: Sarah Gregorius, Michaela Robertson, Katie Rood, Paige Satchell, Rosie White, Hannah Wilkinson