Football Ferns take on Iceland and Nigeria ahead of the Women’s World Cup in Turkey
The Football Ferns will compete in the home Women’s World Cup after playing a team from every confederation outside of Oceania after playing against Iceland and Nigeria in Turkey.
New Zealand will continue their World Cup preparations with friendlies against world No. 16 Iceland and world No. 45 Nigeria on April 8 and 12 (NZT) at Mardan Sports Complex in Antalya.
They will be the Football Ferns’ last overseas assignments before the World Cup begins in July and it’s the last chance for the players to apply for selection before the larger squad is allowed to gather in New Zealand for a two-month camp.
The game against Iceland is a particular advantage for the Football Ferns, who were in search of a European nation after being drawn in Group A alongside Norway and Switzerland.
Iceland failed to qualify for the World Cup after finishing behind the Netherlands in their group in UEFA World Cup qualifying and then losing to Portugal in a playoff.
However, they beat the Football Ferns in their last meeting with a 1-0 win at the 2021 SheBelieves Cup and should prove a tough test for a team who have suffered five straight defeats, including a 5-0 loss to Portugal.
Nigeria, on the other hand, is a team the Football Ferns have never played against.
They qualified for this year’s World Cup after reaching the semi-finals of the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations.
They will be the first African nation the Football Ferns play against since losing to Cameroon at the last World Cup in 2019.
Despite their low ranking, they boast a squad full of European and North American professionals, including star striker Asisat Oshoala, who has scored 19 goals for Spanish giants Barcelona this season.
“These are two good teams and a great test for us before the tournament,” said coach Jitka Klimková.
“We played Iceland just over a year ago so this game is a good opportunity to see how we’ve progressed.
“We were also keen to play an African team so we have challenged every other confederation and Nigeria are the perfect opponents.
“As a team we were disappointed with the results against Portugal and Argentina so I know everyone is dying to get back on the pitch to show what we can do.”
Klimková will announce her squad for next Tuesday’s tour.
Football Ferns (NZT) fixture lists
Saturday, April 8, 1 a.m.: v Iceland; Mardan Sports Complex, Antalya
Wednesday, April 12, 1 a.m.: v Nigeria; Mardan Sports Complex, Antalya