An international football analysis group says New Zealand’s Football Ferns are heading in the right direction, having made some key improvements under coach Jitka Klimková.
Total Football Analysis have made public an in-depth study of Ferns performances over the past three years which concludes:
“The evidence presented in this analysis has indicated that she (Klimková) has already started to make a difference on the pitch, tidying up some of their previous weaknesses and introducing a style of football that gets the players onto the front foot.
“This is not to say that they are faultless though, as they are still capable of making loose passes, not doing enough defensively, and failing to use what is available to them.
“However, what is important at this stage is that they look very much on the road to recovery, and next year’s (FIFA Women’s World Cup) tournament will be important in assessing just how much they have developed under Klimková.
“At the moment though, it all looks very positive, and fans can have faith in their team once again.”
Where the Ferns have improved
Analyst David Astill, head of women’s football at TFA, says New Zealand have improved in a number of areas, including:
- Defensive organisation, with playing appearing to know their roles and working together better.
- Pressing has become more effective with midfielders no longer in inefficient positions.
- Better spatial awareness with players more aware of what’s around them on the pitch.
The study reveals some interesting statistics for Ferns’ performances in 2022:
- New Zealand have averaged 2.95 passes per possession, highlighting how they move the ball across long distances when building play; a point highlighted by their 19.2-metre average pass length.
- A passing accuracy race of 73.2% in 2022 highlights how they have made it more difficult for sides to keep them back.
- New Zealand have become more robust in their own third, winning 64% of aerial duels in 2022.
Defence has been a ‘big concern’
Astill says defending has been a big concern for the team.
” … they are a naturally defensive team and tend to sit back more as a default style of play.
“They have generally utilised a 4-4-2 formation during their games, but have also been known to play in a 4-5-1, giving them an extra player in the central third and allowing them to create two lines of defence when they don’t have the ball, forming a low block.
“Whilst this works in theory, it has not often worked for them in practice, mainly because the two lines have not been close enough to each other and opponents have been able to exploit the gap between them.”