17 May 2018

Erceg retires again from Football Ferns

11:05 am on 17 May 2018

The veteran Football Ferns Abby Erceg defender has retired from international play for a second time.

Erceg retired in February last year but then returned to play for New Zealand against Scotland earlier this year in Spain.

However she's now decided to call time on her international career again.

Abby Erceg.

Abby Erceg. Photo: © Photosport

Two new caps have been named in the 21 strong squad to play Japan next month, in what will the side's first match in Wellington in nearly 30 years.

The newcomers goalkeeper Nadia Olla and defender Sarah Morton.

The match against Asian Cup champions Japan is part of the Football Ferns build up to World Cup qualifing in New Caledonia in November.

Japan are ranked 11th in the world with New Zealand at 20th and the match shapes as a tough assignment.

"Knowing about the high quality of the runners-up from the last World Cup and missing a few very important players in our team due to injuries will make it very difficult for us," said Heraf.

Football Ferns coach Andreas Heraf.

Football Ferns coach Andreas Heraf. Photo: © Photosport

"We still have a long way to go to be ready for the World Cup next year and to achieve our big goal to reach the round of last 16, but I am convinced that we will get closer and closer with every tour we work together."

Back from injury are experienced forward Rosie White and winger Paige Satchell while Olivia Chance, Ria Percival and Daisy Cleverley were unavailable for selection due to injury.

New Zealand and Japan have met eight times previously with Japan winning six of those matches and the other two ending in draws.

It will be the first time the two teams have played each other since Japan won 1-0 in Kagawa in 2015.

-RNZ