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Riley unaffected by Football Ferns century

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 3/06/2016

Ali Riley will treat her 100th game for New Zealand no differently to her previous 99 when they face Australia in the first of two women's internationals against Australia in Victoria.

The Sweden-based defender will become the fifth player to raise a century for the Football Ferns in Saturday's game at Ballarat, joining Abby Erceg (124), Ria Percival (114), Katie Duncan (113) and Amber Hearn (110).

Riley, 28, doesn't expect to get emotional as she treats every international as a privilege.

"I can't believe I get to do what I love both professionally and personally," he said.

"Every game is huge for me so I don't think I will think about it that much."

Riley, who made her debut against the Matildas in 2007, says they have remained consistently one of the world's best teams.

Now ranked No.5 compared to New Zealand's 16th, she compares them to top dogs the United States when they are at their best.

"It has been 27 years since we got a win off them. It is that kind of pressure that is fun but also a really hard game that we need in our preparation."

Coach Tony Readings described Riley as a cornerstone of his team, who are nearing the end of their match preparations for the Rio Olympics.

Riley's influence has become just as important off the field as on it, with other players often turning to her for inspiration, he said.

"What she brings is obvious - she's fearless, fit, works through the pain barrier, is really skilful going forward and has lots of pace.

"She's a great driving force and any successful team needs players like Ali."

The second game is in Melbourne on Tuesday.

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