PREVIEWING NEW ZEALAND WNT
FIFA Ranking: 23 (as of July 2012)
Head Coach: Tony Readings
Number of Olympic Appearances: This will be New Zealand’s second time participating in women’s soccer at an Olympics
Group: E (Great Britain, Cameroon, Brazil)
First Match: July 25 against Great Britain
The Football Ferns will play in the opening women’s soccer match of the 2012 London Olympics against the host team, Great Britain at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
2012 Olympic Roster:
2012 Olympic Alternates:
Captain Hayley Moorwood leads the Football Ferns in number of caps, while left back Ali Riley has been known to stop some of the world’s greatest players from getting shots on goal. Amber Hearn leads the team in goals and will be a vital part of New Zealand’s attack. Recently, Riley was injured in a match against the Canadian Women’s National Team and is now wearing a boot on her foot. However, Riley has stated that she should be ready to go by the time the Olympics begin.
Prediction: While the team has certainly improved over the years, the Football Ferns don’t have an impressive run in major tournaments. In the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the team has been knocked out in the group stage. It seems unlikely that the Football Ferns will be able to pull out a victory against Brazil. Likewise, the New Zealand team will face difficulty against the host nation. New Zealand’s best hope for a win in the group stage will be against Cameroon. If the Football Ferns can pull out a win against Cameroon (and subsequently pull off a third place ranking in Group E), they’ll have a shot to make the quarterfinals. If the Football Ferns do happen to make it out of the group stage, they’ll play against the first place team from Group G, which will likely be either France or the United States. Back in February, the Football Ferns came very close to defeating the American team, so New Zealand could be a dark horse during this year’s London Games.