Steinmetz named in Football Ferns squad for games against Portugal and Argentina this month

Wanderers midfielder Malia Steinmetz has been named in the Football Ferns squad for upcoming international friendlies against Portugal and Argentina this month in Kirikiriroa Hamilton and Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. 

The 23-person squad sees Rebekah Stott and CJ Bott set to play their first games in Aotearoa New Zealand since 2018 after missing recent home fixtures with injury. 

The tour could also see captain Ali Riley earn her 150th cap for the Ford Football Ferns, only the second player to do so after Ria Percival. 

The Ferns will play Portugal (ranked 22 by FIFA) on 17 February at Waikato Stadium and Argentina (ranked 29 by FIFA) on 20 February at Waikato Stadium and 23 February at North Harbour Stadium. 

All three games are being played alongside the FIFA Women’s World Cup Play-Off Tournament, a competition which will decide the final three qualifiers and act as a test event for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023. 

The full 23-person squad is:

Elizabeth Anton (16/0) Perth Glory, Australia 
Mackenzie Barry (5/0) Wellington Phoenix FC, NZ
CJ Bott (36/2) Leicester City, England 
Katie Bowen (87/3) Melbourne City FC, Australia
Claudia Bunge (16/0) Melbourne Victory FC, Australia 
Olivia Chance (40/2) Celtic FC, Scotland
Daisy Cleverley (27/2) HB Køge, Denmark
Ava Collins (9/0) St John’s University, USA
Victoria Esson (12/0) Rangers FC, Scotland
Betsy Hassett (138/13) Wellington Phoenix FC, NZ
Grace Jale (12/2) Canberra United, Australia
Anna Leat (9/0) Aston Villa FC, England
Meikayla Moore (60/4) Glasgow City FC, Scotland
Erin Nayler (81/0) IFK Norrköping, Sweden
Grace Neville (1/0) London City Lionesses, England
Gabi Rennie (20/2) Arizona State University, USA
Ali Riley (149/2) Angel City FC, USA
Indiah-Paige Riley (6/0) Brisbane Roar FC, Australia
Paige Satchell (37/2) Wellington Phoenix FC, NZ
Malia Steinmetz (13/0) Western Sydney Wanderers, Australia
Rebekah Stott (87/4) Brighton & Hove Albion, England
Kate Taylor (6/0) Wellington Phoenix FC, NZ
Hannah Wilkinson (108/27) Melbourne City FC, Australia

Wellington Phoenix’s Grace Wisnewski will also join the tour to train with the squad. 

Ford Football Ferns head coach Jitka Klimková sees the three games as a good test for the team building into the FIFA Women’s World Cup:

“It is exciting and inspiring for the whole team to play another three games at home in a FIFA run event.

“These games are as close to a FIFA Women’s World Cup group play environment as we are going to get before the tournament and we will be using it as a simulation to trial everything before July. 

“Last month against the USA we were able to play in the world cup stadiums and test some members of our wider squad. 

“For these matches we are eager to take the next step in building on our preparations leading into the tournament, continuing to focus on our performance goals on the pitch to compete for positive results. 

“It will be extra special for some of our players who were not able to join us in January. They are all excited to be part of the team, wear the Fern and represent Aotearoa front of our home fans.”