Football Ferns to test themselves against women’s world champions

New Zealand’s Football Ferns will test themselves against the world champions of women’s football when they play the United States at February’s SheBelieves Cup tournament.

The four-nation tournament is being staged to provide the participating teams with the chance to replicate the playing conditions they’ll experience in group play at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup which is being held in New Zealand and Australia.

New Zealand, sponsored by Ford, who are rated 22nd in the FIFA world rankings, will play:

Iceland (ranked 16th) – venue Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, California, Friday February 18,  2pm NZT

United States (ranked 1st) – venue Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, California, Monday February 21,  9am NZT

Czech Republic (ranked 24th) – venue Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas, Thursday February 24, noon NZT

Hosts United States go into the tournament as hot favourites, having won four of the six SheBelieves Cup tournaments held since 2016, including the last two.

The US finished ahead of Brazil, Canada and Argentina at the 2021 event, used as a warm-up for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Ferns coach Jitka Klimková will lead her team out against her native Czech Republic in what will be the first meeting between the two countries.

“I’m lucky that we get to play against the country that I played for many, many years ago.

“The SheBelieves tournament format, with three games against very different opponents is going to simulate the group play at the World Cup. We will focus on quality performances that will lead to earning maximum points and scoring more goals.”

Iceland and Czech Republic are in the midst of qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, currently placed second and third in Group C of UEFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying. Iceland will also play in the 2022 UEFA Women’s Euro in England this July.

Photo: United States … previous winners of the SheBelieves Cup