Ferns coach Jitka Klimková promises a ‘play to win’ philosophy

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As the Football Ferns prepare to play Iceland in the opening game of the SheBelieves Cup, head coach Jitka Klimková has promised an approach based on winning games, rather than playing ‘not to lose’.

“It’s changing the mindset and making the players understand that, as much as possible, we want to keep the ball and control the play,” she says in a lengthy interview with the FIFA.com website.

“We’re not naïve and we know that against some opposition that we’ll need to be ready to have spells out of possession and be ready to counter-attack and be fast in transition.

“We also need to be really compact in defence and strong in one-v-ones. But the players are hungry for this and really want to play on the front foot, and I think they’re ready to make a success of it.”

Klimková says in New Zealand’s recent games against Canada, there was a distinct contrast in the approach of the players.

She said the players were excited about the new, positive approach but as soon as they went behind in the first game, they reverted to playing “on the back foot”.

They learned from that and performed significantly better in the second match, losing 1-0 to the Olympic champions.

“It was good for the players to see what happens when they play not to lose, and then the difference when they play to win.

“They need to see and believe that, by playing to win, it gives us a better chance in these matches.

“That might take a while, but I’m a very patient coach and I promise you this: I won’t give up. Whoever we are up against, New Zealand will be a team that plays to win.”

SheBelieves Cup

The Ford-sponsored Ferns play three games at the tournament:

All dates/times are NZT

Friday February 18
2pm Iceland v New Zealand (live Sky Sport 7 from Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, California)
5pm United States v Czech Republic

Monday February 21
9am United States v New Zealand (live Sky Sport 7 from Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, California)
12-noon Czech Republic v Iceland

Thursday February 24
12-noon New Zealand v Czech Republic (live Sky Sport 7 from Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas)
3pm United States v Iceland

Friends of Football’s guide to the tournament

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