WELLINGTON, May 14 (Reuters) - New Zealand named a highly experienced squad on Thursday for next month’s women’s World Cup in Canada, with just one new cap in the 23-player lineup.
Chicago-based defender Abby Erceg will captain the squad, which includes 15 players who competed at the 2011 World Cup in Germany and seven who are making their third straight World Cup appearance.
Twelve members of the “football ferns” have earned more than 50 caps while the only debutant is goalkeeper Cushla Lichtwark, a former netballer.
“Raising the experience of the players has been a massive part of our planning,” New Zealand coach Tony Reading said in a statement.
”It’s all been about increasing the number of caps, increasing the amount of FIFA tournament experience and also increasing the quality of the caps as well.
“Almost all of the squad have been to youth World Cups as well so we’ve got that experience to fall back on.”
New Zealand qualified for the World Cup by winning last year’s Oceania Nations Cup but are outsiders to win the title with a current world ranking of 17th.
New Zealand failed to make it past the group stage in their previous appearances at the World Cup and are drawn in a difficult group alongside China, the Netherlands and host-nation Canada.
The seventh women’s World Cup will be held in Canada from June 6 to July 5 with 24 countries qualified.
New Zealand squad:
Goalkeepers: Cushla Lichtwark, Erin Nayler, Rebecca Rolls.
Defenders: Catherine Bott, Abby Erceg (captain), Anna Green, Meikayla Moore, Ria Percival, Ali Riley, Rebekah Stott.
Midfielders: Katie Bowen, Daisy Cleverley, Katie Duncan, Betsy Hassett, Annalie Longo, Evie Millynn, Kirsty Yallop.
Forwards: Sarah Gregorius, Amber Hearn, Emma Kete, Jasmine Pereira, Rosie White, Hannah Wilkinson. (Writing by Julian Linden in Singapore, editing by Nick Mulvenney)