An Olympic medal the goal for Football Ferns
The Football Ferns must progress to the quarterfinals of the Olympic tournament if they're to receive a pass mark from New Zealand Football HQ.
The national women's team has made giant strides during the past five years, both as a team and individually, and their long-term programme, instigated in 2007, was designed to reap rewards at London.
There is a strong belief within the team that they can challenge the big guns, despite being ranked No 9 of the 12 teams at the Olympics, and they'll rightly view anything less than a quarterfinal showing as a disappointment.
The same goes for NZF chief executive Grant McKavanagh, who has high hopes of a last-eight appearance, which is the minimum standard required for a pass mark.
"I think second round is what we're really focusing on, we've got a pretty strong expectation that they'll get through (pool play)," he told Fairfax Media.
"We'd like to get to the quarterfinals and ideally we'd like to get through that and contend for medals.
"We know, with the results we've had, the girls can beat the best teams in the world. They believe that, too."
The 23rd-ranked Ferns are enjoying the best period in their history in terms of results, including a breakthrough series win against China last month and several wins or draws against top-15 teams in the past two years. Earlier this year, they led world No 1 United States into stoppage time before a last-gasp 2-1 loss.
As for the Oly-Whites, they must finish in the top two of their pool to progress to the quarters, a tricky assignment given they'll have to get past Brazil, Egypt and Belarus.
A pass mark for the men, in McKavanagh's eyes, is picking up points.
"There's no question, we would be disappointed if we didn't get any points," he said.
FOOTBALL FERNS Goalkeepers: Jenny Bindon, Rebecca Rolls. Defenders: Ria Percival, Anna Green, Abby Erceg, Rebecca Smith (captain), Ali Riley, Kristy Hill, Rebekah Stott. Midfielders: Katie Hoyle, Hayley Moorwood, Kirsty Yallop, Betsy Hassett, Annalie Longo. Forwards: Amber Hearn, Sarah Gregorius, Rosie White, Hannah Wilkinson. The draw: July 25 v Great Britain, Cardiff; July 28 v Brazil, Cardiff; July 31 v Cameroon, Coventry.
OLY-WHITES Goalkeepers: Jake Gleeson or Scott Basalaj, Michael O'Keeffe. Defenders: Ian Hogg, Tim Myers, Tommy Smith, Ryan Nelsen (captain), Adam Thomas, James Musa. Midfielders: Tim Payne, Michael McGlinchey, Alex Feneridis, Cameron Howieson, Adam McGeorge. Forwards: Kosta Barbarouses, Shane Smeltz, Chris Wood, Marco Rojas, Dakota Lucas. The draw: July 26 v Belarus, Coventry; July 29 v Egypt, Manchester; August 1 v Brazil, Newcastle.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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