Jensen breaks into big time

Tears of joy as Nelson girl gets Ferns call-up

JONATHAN MCKEOWN
Last updated 11:55 10/02/2014
Emily Jensen
WORLD CLASS: Nelson's Emily Jensen will make the step up to international football after being named in the Football Ferns squad for a match against China.

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Emily Jensen's job hunting is going to have to take a back seat for now.

Jensen is in line to make her senior international debut with the Football Ferns in China next week after being named in the squad on Saturday as an injury replacement.

The former Waimea College student moved to Auckland two weeks ago for football, so she could train with the Auckland-based junior football team.

The commitment and talent Jensen possess earned her the opportunity that came with a boom and some tears, as Jensen explained.

"Well, I had a call on the way to training on the Wednesday saying, if I was needed, would I be available. But it was just a possibility at that stage," she told the Nelson Mail while lacing up her boots for her final practice before flying out to join the team.

"Later that night I dropped my friend off at the airport - she was going away with the Ferns - I drove home and boom, got the call. I cried, happy tears of course and my best friend was with me when I found out so it was cool to have someone there."

Jensen broke on to the international scene with the Young Football Ferns. At the 2012 under-17 Fifa world cup in Azerbaijan, Jensen played every minute and scored as a defender against Brazil. Jensen was a member of the Mainland Pride team which took out the 2013 ASB Women's League, joins CJ Bott and Evie Millynn as first-time Football Ferns squad members in China from the current New Zealand under-20 side.

Jensen, who has been searching for a job since the move, said her time has in China is a chance she is going to take with both feet.

"This is a massive opportunity for me to train and travel with the best of the best," she said.

"I need to lap up every second and make sure I show them everything I've got.

"I'm so grateful to be given a spot and I'm so thankful to everyone who has helped me get here."

The 18-year-old defender replaces Ali Riley with the fullback ruled out of the squad through injury just before departing for China, where the Football Ferns will meet the hosts, Korea DPR and Mexico.

New Zealand's first match of the four-team invitational tournament is against China tomorrow. The Young Football Ferns put in a much improved effort in game two of the NTC Invitational Tournament in Los Angeles at the weekend, beaten 1-0 by the United States.

After falling to a 5-0 defeat to Japan on Thursday, the New Zealand side - which includes Nelson's Geena Gross - stepped up their performance 48 hours later against the tournament hosts.

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Having conceded three goals in the opening 20 minutes against Japan, the New Zealand side started much better, enjoying more possession and creating several chances to score before the home side took a 21st minute lead. The hosts scored the only other goal of the game midway through the second half.

New Zealand coach Jitka Klimkova was pleased with the development of the side in a short space of time against another top level opponent.

"We were much calmer at the start of the game," Klimkova said. "We stayed strong, controlled possession better and created a few chances. The game showed that the players had learned from the first match, they knew more about what to expect and we're pleased with not just the improved score but also the performance.

"The United States played far more direct and played penetrating passes and we were able to read it and we dealt with them much better than Japan, who were far more unpredictable in their movements."

The improved showing came without Martine Puketapu with the forward ruled out through illness while Whitney Hepburn picked up an ankle injury during the game.

The Young Football Ferns - who head to the Fifa U-17 Women's World Cup in March - were to finish the tournament with a game against China, who recorded a 0-0 draw with Japan in their first match.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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