24 Apr 2010

Tough draw for Junior Football Ferns

6:45 am on 24 April 2010

The New Zealand junior women's football team has been drawn with Brazil, Sweden and North Korea in their group for the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Dresden, Germany in July.

With their respective senior opponents ranked third, fourth and fifth in FIFA's rankings - New Zealand are 23rd - the Young Football Ferns' Group B has been tagged the 'Group of Death'.

New Zealand coach Tony Readings says it takes four to make up a group and is treating any "toughest pool" judgments as a compliment to the rising stock of New Zealand women's teams internationally.

Readings was an assistant coach in 2008 when the Junior Football Ferns defeated hosts Chile and were seconds away from beating England and progressing to the quarterfinals.

He says the current crop, featuring many veterans from the 2008 event, have set their sights on reaching the last eight of the 16-nation event, regardless of the draw.

New Zealand Football are working with US Soccer to finalise two friendlies against under-20 world champions USA in Los Angeles on May 13th and 15th, which would give the Young Football Ferns an early World Cup benchmark two months out from the finals.