Junior Ferns squad announced for FIFA U-20 World Cup in Costa Rica

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Coach Gemma Lewis has named her 21-player squad to represent New Zealand at August’s U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica.

Led by captain Kate Taylor, the squad includes eight members of last season’s Wellington Phoenix A-League side and three players who were part of the bronze medal-winning side at the 2018  FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.

The squad

Alyssa Whinham (Wellington Phoenix)
Aniela Jensen (University of the Pacific)
Ava Collins (St John’s University)
Ava Pritchard (A-League Off Season Programme)
Brianna Edwards (Bankstown City Lions)
Charlotte Lancaster (A-League Off Season Programme)
Charlotte Wilford-Carroll (A-League Off Season Programme)
Ella Findlay (Eastern Suburbs AFC)
Emma Pijnenburg (A-League Off Season Programme)
Grace Wisnewski (A-League Off Season Programme)
Jana Niedermayr (Eastern Suburbs AFC)
Kate Taylor (A-League Off Season Programme)
Macey Fraser (Wellington Phoenix Academy)
Marisa van der Meer (A-League Off Season Programme)
Milly Clegg (Auckland United FC)
Murphy Sheaff (Jacksonville University)
Ruby Nathan (Auckland United FC)
Rylee Godbold (A-League Off Season Programme)
Te Reremoana Walker (A-League Off Season Programme)
Tupelo (Tui) Dugan (Arizona State University)
Zoe McMeeken (A-League Off Season Programme)

Coach Lewis: ‘ … they really want to grasp the opportunity’

As the 2020 U-20 World Cup and the 2020 U-17 World Cup were cancelled due to COVID-19, the Costa Rica tournament becomes the first opportunity for many of the Junior Ferns to play at an international tournament.

“For these players now they’ve been waiting for this for a number of years, so it’s a huge, huge, opportunity for them,” Lewis told the NZ Football website.

“Going into this, they kind of have a lot more pride about it, they’re a lot more driven and they have a lot more motivation behind it because it’s something that they’ve experienced being taken away from them. And now they really want to grasp the opportunity and show what they can do.”

The tournament will be New Zealand’s eighth appearance at U-20 level since first qualifying in 2006.

New Zealand’s best finish was in 2014 when the Junior Ferns reached the quarter-finals.

‘It’s a tough group’

New Zealand face Mexico, Germany and Colombia in their group.

“It’s a tough group, but any group for a world cup is tough,” Lewis says.

“We want to get a good result: we ultimately want to get out of the group. I guess that’s quite brave of us to say, but we feel if we go into that first game against Mexico and get something out of that game, then we’re going to be in a good position to try and push through and get out of the group.

“It’s a tough turnaround and Germany are going to be an extremely tough team as well as Colombia. So for us, it’s about putting our best foot forwards, it’s about us improving our level of consistency and punishing teams when we do get opportunities to try and get those results. And on our day, we can definitely do that.

Group B match schedule

v Mexico – Thursday August 11 (8am NZT)
v Germany – Sunday August 14 (5am NZT)
v Colombia – Wednesday August 17 (11am NZT)

Other groups

Group A:  Costa Rica, Australia, Spain and Brazil
Group C: Canada, France, Nigeria and South Korea
Group D: Japan, the Netherlands, Ghana and the United States

Broadcast coverage

Sky New Zealand have exclusive broadcast rights to match coverage from the Costa Rica tournament.

About the tournament

Only four countries —Germany, Brazil, USA and Nigeria — have played in the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup tournaments since it was launched as a U-19 competition in Canada 20 years ago.

Germany have won three times (2004, 2010 and 2014); the US have won three times (2002, 2008 and 2012).

This year’s tournament will be played at two venues used to host the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2014.

The stadia are Estadio Nacional in San José and the Morera Solo Stadium in Alajuela.

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