Football Ferns to host Brazil for two matches
While the Fifa World Cup is underway in their homeland, Brazilian football flair and style will visit New Zealand shores in June with the world number six side meeting the Football Ferns in a two-match series.
The 20th-ranked Football Ferns will meet Brazil in Auckland at Mt Smart Stadium on June 16 before shifting to Taupo for the second match at Owen Delany Park on June 19.
Following on from a narrow 2-1 defeat by world No 3 Japan in Osaka in May, Football Ferns coach Tony Readings says confirming Brazil for a home tour is a coup for the country which signals where the New Zealand side sit in the world pecking order.
"It's exciting that we've been able to secure Brazil for this series and it shows how far we've come in the last few years that we're now able to attract the top teams in the world to visit New Zealand to play us," Readings said.
"We don't often get to play at home and to be doing so against a nation such as Brazil - with all their football tradition and heritage - it's going to be a real treat for our fans."
The matches will be the first time the Football Ferns have played in New Zealand since June 2012 - a run of 27 away matches - where the home side claimed two wins against China in Auckland.
Thirteen of the 18 players Readings has named for the Brazil tour featured in that series with goalkeeper Erin Nayler, defender Meikayla Moore, strikers Helen Collins and Rosie White involved this time, along with uncapped midfielder Daisy Cleverley - who will be fresh from the Junior Football Ferns two-match tour of Brazil currently underway.
Readings says Cleverley's inclusion points to a key feature of the Football Ferns programme - ensuring the next wave of players are exposed to the top level of the game.
"While we're firmly focussed on preparing ourselves for the upcoming World Cup and Olympic tournaments, we are also future-proofing our side."
"Including players such as Daisy, who has come through the pathway at Under-17 and Under-20 level, is something we must do to continue to grow the pool of players we have who are capable of sustaining our recent development in the long term."
FOOTBALL FERNS SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Erin Nayler, Rebecca Rolls
Defenders: Katie Bowen, Abby Erceg, Meikayla Moore, Ria Percival, Ali Riley, Rebekah Stott
Midfielders: Daisy Cleverley, Betsy Hassett, Katie Hoyle, Annalie Longo, Kirsty Yallop
Strikers: Helen Collins, Sarah Gregorius, Amber Hearn, Rosie White, Hannah Wilkinson
Football Ferns vs Brazil
Monday 16 June, 7pm
Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
Football Ferns vs Brazil
Thursday 19 June, 6.30pm
Owen Delany Park, Taupo