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Football Ferns debut likely for schoolgirl

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 27/02/2017

Auckland schoolgirl Anna Leat is still pinching herself as she contemplates a Football Ferns debut at the Cyprus Cup tournament.

At 15, Leat will be among the youngest New Zealanders to play a senior soccer international if called on over the next week.

As the only back-up to veteran stopper Erin Nayler, that seems likely, with coach Tony Readings also indicating a desire to play all his squad across the four games.

Rangitoto College student Leat is still coming to grips with being named in the squad.

"I was in shock at first but then as it started to set in I just got more and more excited," she said.

"I went and told my mum and dad in the lounge. I ran in and we were all pretty excited."

Two other uncapped players are in the world No.19 ranked New Zealand squad for the 12-nation tournament which begins with a pool game against 21st-ranked Scotland on Thursday (NZT). Pool games follow against Australia (6th) and South Korea (18th) before a classification game.

Midfielder Malia Steinmetz and forward Martine Puketapu are likely to make their debut along with Leat, who has shone for New Zealand at under-17 level and this year with the national A team.

She has focused on working hard in training and learning from players she remembers idolising as a child.

"Getting to be on tour with them is pretty surreal but I'm just trying to learn as much from them as I can and take as much out of it as possible to become a better player from it," she said.

The tournament is the swansong for one of those players.

Captain Abby Erceg is retiring afterwards in protest at the lack of financial support provided to the team by New Zealand Football.

New Zealand's best finish in six previous appearances at the Cyprus Cup is runners-up, in 2010.

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