The Football Ferns will be without midfielder Olivia Chance and defender CJ Bott when they face Argentina in Thursday’s game at North Harbour Stadium.
Chance, who captained the team in Monday’s 2-0 loss to Argentina in Hamilton, has returned to her Scottish club, Celtic, as agreed by NZ Football before the international window.
Bott did not play in Monday’s game and has a minor injury, but will remain in camp to support the team rather than return early to English club Leicester City, NZ Football say.
Captain Ali Riley is a doubtful starter, after picking up an injury in training last weekend and unable to play in Monday’s match. However, forward Indiah Paige-Riley, who missed Monday’s match as a precaution for a possible concussion injury, is likely to be available for Thursday’s game.
Defender Claudia Bunge, an unused substitute in the Hamilton game against Argentina, says the Ferns have more depth than in the past.
“I think we’re in a good place despite our last two performances and we’re hoping to fix that on Thursday,” she said at a media briefing.
“This team has a lot more depth now than we have in previous years. So everyone’s fighting for a spot, which gives (Jitka) a hard choice to make for who’s going to be in that starting 11. But yeah, I can speak on behalf of all of the girls; we’re all really ready (for the second game against Argentina).
“I think it’s the small things that have been letting us down over these past couple games and actually probably before that as well.
“We’ve played against two good teams that have punished us for it, so it’s tough (lessons) but it’s the way we’re going to learn and the way we’re going to grow. So we’re going to take that and hopefully turn things around.”
Head coach Jitka Klimková said:
“We improved against Argentina, but was, it was not enough to get those three points (on Monday).
“We are thankful that we have one more game to go and we can prove to everybody that this team is strong enough to actually keep the ball better and possess the ball better, control the ball and the game better, and get those three points that everybody is waiting for.”
Game to be played on Thursday February 23, 2023
New Zealand v Argentina (friendly)
North Harbour Stadium, Auckland, 7pm