Ali Riley Named To New Zealand Olympic Soccer Squad
July 8, 2008
NEW ZEALAND - Junior Ali Riley will be heading to Beijing as the New Zealand Olympic Committee has named the women who will be the first football players to represent New Zealand at an Olympic Games. After ending a 16-year absence from the world stage at the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup, the Football Ferns return to China with their strongest squad in John Herdman's two-year tenure as head coach.
Goalscoring midfielder Kirsty Yallop - who missed the World Cup through injury but played a major part in World Cup and Olympic qualifying on either side - gets her chance to foot it against the world's best, while fullback Marlies Oostdam and striker Rebecca Tegg have both recovered from ACL injuries that have kept them out of international football since the World Cup.
The Peace Queen Cup in June saw the return of Sweden-based World Cup defender Rebecca Smith (from injury) and former Arsenal striker Amber Hearn (from a three-year break from the sport). Strong team performances at that tournament included a 1-0 win over South American champions Argentina.
'It's exciting going into an Olympic Games knowing that all 18 players bring something different and that they can all make a significant impact to the team performance in their own unique way,' said Herdman.
'We've got players coming back from injury at the right time with Oostdam and Tegg back in for the first time since the World Cup and Rebecca Smith coming back on board at the Peace Queen Cup.'
Five teenagers in the squad and an average age of just 22 give the Football Ferns a youthful look, although Kristy Hill's selection is a belated present for her 29th birthday on Tuesday and reward for a fine debut in Korea less than a month ago.
With football beginning two days before the Olympic opening ceremony, the Football Ferns will be New Zealand's first Olympians in action when they meet Japan in Qinhuangdao on August 6, and Herdman and his team were relishing the opportunity to kickstart New Zealand's involvement.
'It's all special - the whole mantle of being an Olympian. We know what it means to New Zealanders to be at the Olympics, and to be the first team in the first event makes it even more special,' said Herdman.
'To have the chance to get off to a good start by getting a win against Japan and maybe inspiring the rest of the Olympic team is extra motivation.'
'The Peace Queen Cup added a bit of realism to that prospect. We've taken some key steps over the past nine months towards consistently performing in a way that will lead to results against top teams.'
The Football Ferns finish pool play with matches against world number five Norway on August 9 world number one USA on August 12.
New Zealand Olympic Football Squad
Football Ferns (Senior Women):
Name (Club - age - caps/goals)
Jenny Bindon (Waitakere City FC - 35 - 23/0)
Rachel Howard (TSV Crailsheim - 30 - 14/0)
Anna Green (Three Kings United - 17 - 8/1)
Abby Erceg (Western Springs - 18 - 24/2)
Kristy Hill (Three Kings United - 29 - 2/0)
Marlies Oostdam (Eastern Suburbs - 30 - 24/0)
Ria Percival (FC Indiana - 18 - 24/2)
Rebecca Smith (Sunnana SK - 27 - 27/2)
Katie Hoyle (Lynn Avon United - 20 - 12/0)
Emily McColl (Cocoa Expos/Coastal Carolina University - 22 - 17/0),
Hayley Moorwood (Lynn Avon United - 24 - 32/3),
Ali Riley (Stanford University - 20 - 19/0)
Kirsty Yallop (Lynn Avon United - 21 - 16/5)
Amber Hearn (Lynn Avon United - 23 - 9/1)
Emma Kete (Lynn Avon United - 20 - 11/2)
Renee Leota (Western Springs FC - 18 - 10/1)
Merissa Smith (Three Kings United - 17 - 15/1)
Rebecca Tegg (Eastern Suburbs - 22 - 5/0)
Management: John Herdman (Head Coach), Tony Readings (Assistant coach/ Technical Analyst), Julie Hogg (Manager), Simon Eaddy (Goalkeeping Coach), Helen Tunstall (Sports Scientist), Alysha Blackwell (Physiotherapist), Mark Fulcher (Doctor).