23 Dec 2011

Football Ferns to play USA

9:14 am on 23 December 2011

The New Zealand women's football team will play world number one the USA in Texas in February as part of an intensive build up for the 2012 London Olympics.

The match, funded by additional contestable funding from High Performance Sport New Zealand, will kick off a busy year for the Ferns, with Cyprus Cup games against Northern Ireland, South Korea and South Africa in February and March, Olympic qualifiers in March and April and European friendlies en route to London if the team qualify and then are approved by the New Zealand Olympic Committee.

The team will have played 10 internationals by the time they reach London, with the match against the reigning Olympic champions in Dallas the most testing but potentially most beneficial.

Football Ferns coach Tony Readings says they need to play the best teams in the world to prepare for their goal of reaching the quarterfinals in London.

It will be Readings' first game in charge of the national team after stepping up from the assistant coach role to replace John Herdman in September.

The Ferns are warm favourites to claim Oceania's sole berth in the 12 team women's tournament after their rampant form in the eight nation OFC Women Nations Cup in 2010 saw them qualify in a canter for both the 2011 Women's World Cup and the final stage of Olympic qualification - a home and away playoff against a yet to be determined Oceania country in March.