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Retiring Erceg named in NZ Women's squad

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/02/2017

Abby Erceg. © Joern Pollex - FIFA/Getty Images Abby Erceg. Football Ferns captain Abby Erceg has been selected for next week's Cyprus Cup tournament despite her impending international retirement.

The classy 27-year-old stopper lashed out at New Zealand Football while announcing her retirement on Tuesday, saying the federation undervalued the women's game.

Her retirement, an act of protest, was an attempt to raise awareness for what she felt was NZ Football's lack of financial support.

High Performance Sport New Zealand had also reduced funding for the side in December after their Rio Olympics group stage exit.

Despite her broadside, Erceg has been selected in Tony Readings' squad for next week's Cyprus Cup, an invitational tournament in the European country.

Yet the subtext of Readings' comments on his squad selection was clear.

"There has been a lot of discussion around the team," Readings said.

"But the great thing now is we can focus on why we do it, and that is to play football matches and represent our country."

New Zealand will kick off their tournament against Scotland in Larnaca, before taking on Austria in Nicosia and returning to Larnaca to play South Korea.

The three matches, plus a playoff, will be Erceg's final appearances in white after earning 129 caps since 2006.

However she will continue to play in the US National Women's Soccer League for the newly-rebranded defending champions, North Carolina Courage.

Elsewhere, Readings has named three uncapped players in goalkeeper Anna Leat, midfielder Malia Steinmetz and forward Martine Puketapu.

Fleet-footed winger Paige Satchell has also been selected after a breakout 2016.

"It's a good opportunity for existing players to kick on and improve, and for the new players to come in and show they deserve some opportunities," Readings said.

FOOTBALL FERNS: Anna Leat, Erin Nayler, CJ Bott, Abby Erceg (c), Anna Green, Meikayla Moore, Ria Percival, Ali Riley, Rebekah Stott, Katie Bowen, Daisy Cleverly, Betsy Hassett, Annalie Longo, Malia Steinmetz, Kirsty Yallop, Amber Hearn, Jasmine Pereira, Aimee Phillips, Martine Puketapu, Paige Satchell, Rosie White, Hannah Wilkinson.

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