NZ under-20 women play for place in last eight
Coach Aaron McFarland is glad the Junior Football Ferns' ''destiny is in our own hands'' as they chase a place in the knockout stages of the Fifa Under-20 Women's World Cup in Canada tomorrow.
The New Zealand side face Costa Rica at the National Soccer Stadium in Toronto knowing a win, or possibly even a draw, could see them qualify for the last eight of the age-group event for the first time after four previous attempts.
If the team is able to get out of group D, they will join the under-17 men's sides from 2009 and 2011 as the only New Zealand teams to progress to the knockout stages of a FIFA age-group event.
After opening their tournament with a 2-0 win over Paraguay last week, the team enter tomorrow's do-or-die game having recovered from Sunday's 4-0 defeat at the hands of 2012 under-17 women's world champions France.
Despite the final score line against the European giants, Junior Football Ferns coach Aaron McFarland - who was also a member of the coaching staff of both U-17 men's sides to progress - said there were positives to come from a match which saw the New Zealand side resolutely hold firm in their desire to build their possession phases from the back and retain the ball.
''Being able to do that against one of the best teams at the tournament shows our players have been better able to deal with the pressure this time around,'' McFarland said.
''To still be prepared to play through them while other teams may have resorted to smashing it long, still losing and not developing their style of play, is a good sign.''
Translating that same approach into tomorrow's game is the next task for a New Zealand side relishing the chance to make their mark on their own terms.
''It's exciting because our destiny is really in our own hands,'' McFarland said.
''The game, the opponent and the occasion tomorrow suits what we have set out to do in developing our philosophy and playing style.
''We will need to control the tempo, build from the back and retain possession to get the result we want.''
The Junior Football Ferns meet Costa Rica at 9am (NZ time) tomorrow and you can follow their progress live on Sky Sport 2 and via Twitter @NZ_Football.
Junior Football Ferns (from): Lily Alfeld (GK), CJ Bott, Megan Lee, Evie Millynn, Emily Jensen, Meikayla Moore, Hannah Carlsen, Daisy Cleverley, Martine Puketapu, Emma Rolston, Briar Palmer, Stephanie Skilton, Isabella Coombes, Katie Bowen (c), Megan Robertson, Ashleigh Ward, Jasmine Pereira, Belinda van Noorden, Tayla O'Brien, Corina Brown (GK), Ronisa Lipi (GK).