New Zealand football has called up 23-players to their upcoming SheBelieves Cup campaign in the United States.
Within the 23-woman squad include seven players from six A-League Women's clubs including the recalling of Football Fern Rebekah Stott for the first time since her successful cancer treatment last year. The call-up will also cause issues for Wellington Phoenix.
Football Ferns squad
- 23-women have been called up for New Zealand international duty at the upcoming SheBelieves Cup in the United States.
- Six A-League clubs will lose players to the call-up.
- The loss of Lily Alfeld for Wellington Phoenix will cause a goalkeeping conundrum for the A-League's only Kiwi club.
More A-League Women's news can be found on The Women's Game.
Football Ferns head coach Jitka Klimková has called up 23-players for the nation's upcoming SheBelieves Cup appearance taking place from February 18-24, 2022. Six A-League clubs will be affected by the call-up, with seven players missing league play during the upcoming international window.
Melbourne City will lose Rebekah Stott and Hannah Wilkinson, Sydney FC will be without Paige Satchell, Western Sydney Wanderers will lose Malia Steinmetz, Melbourne Victory will lose Claudia Bunge, Perth Glory will lose Elizabeth Anton while Wellington Phoenix will be without Lily Alfeld.
The return of Rebekah Stott to the New Zealand international fold will be a welcome one for both the Football Ferns and each player. Stott has not played internationally since being diagnosed with Stage 3 Hogkin's Lymphoma a year ago.
Her treatment and recovery kept her from participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. However, the Games were a memorable on for Stott, having been told she was in remission the day of the Fern's opening fixture in Japan.
“This goes beyond football,” said Klimková when talking about the call up.
“Stotty’s situation is very unique – very few players have gone through what she has and returned to international football.
“She is a fighter. We all hoped and believed that she would come back, and watching her performances each week for Melbourne City has shown what a role model she is.
“She means so much to this team and we’re honoured to have her back."
Wellington Phoenix will be celebrating their first ever international call-up, with captain and starting goalkeeper Lily Alfeld returning to the Football Ferns for the first time since 2019. Alfeld's call-up is largely on the back of her impressive performances in this season's A-League.
This departure does pose a problem for Phoenix though. As part of their agreement for being a Kiwi club in an Australian league, Wellington have strict player representation requirements.
At present Phoenix have Alfeld and one reserve goalkeeper signed to the club. They have a third keeper training with them, Aimee Hall, but who cannot sign with Wellington due to her age. Recruiting a visa player to replace Alfeld during the international break would mean one of their Kiwi contingent would have to be released from the squad.
Phoenix may therefore be forced to name an outfield player as their reserve goalkeeper while Alfeld is away. Speaking about the conundrum after last week's loss to Melbourne Victory, Wellington head coach Gemma Lewis discussed the issue:
"If that was to happen then potentially that's what would have to happen," said Lewis.
"We can't bring in another goalkeeper, no, and the regulations are that we need to have a goalkeeper on the bench. We'd have to look into that."
The full list of players called up is as follows:
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT 🌿â¤ï¸— New Zealand Football (@NZ_Football) February 7, 2022
Ford Football Ferns head coach Jitka KlimkovÃ¡ has named a strong 23-player squad for the SheBelieves Cup, headlined by the return of senior defender @stotty_13 🌿â¤ï¸
The six A-League Women's clubs will be without their Football Ferns during their She Believes Cup campaign at the end of this month. The upcoming FIFA window starts on February 15 and ends on February 24.
The full A-League Women's schedule can be found using this link.