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Junior Football Ferns ready to aim high

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/06/2017

Coach Gareth Turnbull has some lofty goals for his newly named New Zealand women's under-20 soccer team.

Turnbull has his sights set firmly on next year's age group World Cup in France, but needs his team to secure a qualifying spot through next month's Oceania under-19 championship in New Zealand.

The Kiwis will tackle five Pacific Islands - Papua New Guinea, Fiji, New Caledonia, Samoa and Tonga - in a round-robin format at Ngahue Reserve in Auckland from July 11-24.

Turnbull wants his squad to do more than merely qualify, however.

"Qualification is the primary aim, and in a comfortable style of football," he said.

"But we also want to provide more learning opportunities.

"The aim is for them to become more immersed and rub shoulders with some of the girls in the senior mix to grow into international footballers."

New Zealand have traditionally dominated female age-group tournaments in the Oceania region, but Turnbull believes the standard is rising.

"I think PNG will be the most organised and competitive team and we have them up first," he said.

"If the last under-17s qualifying cycle is anything to go off, New Caledonia have a few really exciting players while Fiji will be competitive, and Samoa and Tonga will make life hard."

The Kiwi squad includes three players who have already been in the mix for the senior Football Ferns - goalkeeper Anna Leat, Grace Jale and Malia Steinmetz - while three-cap Football Fern Paige Satchell has been ruled out with a serious knee injury.

New Zealand:

Goalkeepers: Anna Leat, Nadia Olla. Defenders: Saskia Vosper, Rebecca Lake, Elizabeth Anton, Sarah Morton, Emma Clarke, Claudia Bunge, Michaela Foster. Midfielders: Grace Jale, Malia Steinmetz, Nicole Mettam, Alosi Bloomfield , Deven Jackson, Lily Bray. Forwards: Emma Main, Samantha Tawharu, Jacqui Hand, Dayna Stevens.

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