Football Ferns to run out against a familiar face in two-game Canada tour

The coach who will lead Olympic champions Canada in two games against the Football Ferns in October has made no secret of her past ambitions to coach the New Zealand team.

Bev Priestman worked for NZ Football between 2009 and 2013, progressing from head of women’s football to head of football (now the technical director role).

Since then, she’s been the assistant manager of the England women’s national team and then achieved her biggest success when the Canadians beat Sweden to win gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

Her wife is former Ferns midfielder Emma Humphries, who has managed at Liverpool FC and been the director of women’s football at Vancouver Whitecaps.

The Wellington-raised Humphries told Stuff in September 2020 that it would be a dream to return to New Zealand to coach the Football Ferns one day, potentially even in tandem with Priestman, who she revealed has been open about her interest in the role in the past.

Instead, Priestman will be in the rival dugout on October 24 and 27 when the Canadians play New Zealand in what’s been called the ‘Celebration Tour’.

The sixth-ranked Canadian women have not played since beating Sweden in a penalty shootout at Yokohama and Priestman says 23rd-ranked New Zealand will provide ideal opposition for games on both coasts.

The games mark the start of the Canadian women’s road to the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Priestman expects a strong Canadian squad with all 22 Olympians available.

“From speaking to the players I have in the last couple of days, I think that gold medal has spurred them on,” she said.

“I expect all of the players will be ready to play in this series, which is great.”

Meanwhile, the Canada games will be the first opportunity for incoming New Football Ferns coach Jitka Klimková to bring together her squad.

Speaking to TV One news, Klimková said: “The main goal for us in Canada is really to be clear how do we want to play, to be clear about the roles for the players on the field and off the field, so we are going to really focus mainly on us.

“Of course we will be prepared how to play against Canada but the main goal for us is to focus on us.”

Klimkova said her first aim is to find ways to score more goals at international level.

“I’m a very attacking orientated coach who loves to have the ball on our feet and control the game a little bit more, but what we need to have for that is very organised and tough defence that is hard to break down.”

The ‘Celebration Tour’

October 24 (8am NZT), Ottawa, Ontario (TD Place)

October 27 (12.30 pm NZT), Montreal, Quebec (Stade Saputo)

Bev Priestman interview