New Zealand reveal men's and women's football squads for Olympic Games

New Zealand players look form a team huddle following their defeat in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France group E match against Canada (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
New Zealand players look form a team huddle following their defeat in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France group E match against Canada (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

English Premier League forward Chris Wood headlines the OlyWhites; Football Ferns quartet of Abby Erceg, Ria Percival, Anna Green and Ali Riley set to play in their fourth Olympics at Tokyo 2020

Experience and youth are two words to describe New Zealand's men's and women's football squad for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 next month.

With less than 30 days until New Zealand's opening matches, New Zealand Football and the New Zealand Olympic Committee have announced the players in the Football Ferns (women's) and OlyWhites (men's) teams.

Burney FC striker Chris Wood is headed to his second Olympic Games. The 29-year-old is one of three overage players named in the squad alongside Minnesota United centre back Michael Boxall and All Whites captain Winston Reid. Although Reid is subject to availability pending a release from newly promoted premier league side Brentford.

There is also a host of exciting talent including Liberato Cacace, Ben Waine and Joe Bell.

Unfortunately, the OlyWhites will be without Bayern Munich young gun Sarpreet Singh who is unavailable for the tournament.

Chris Wood of New Zealand celebrates after scoring a goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match against Solomon Island on 1 September 2017 (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)
Chris Wood of New Zealand celebrates after scoring a goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match against Solomon Island on 1 September 2017 (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)
2017 Getty Images

In the Football Ferns squad, experience will be key with the quartet of Abby Erceg, Ria Percival, Anna Green and Ali Riley set to make their fourth Olympic Games appearance. Coach Tom Sermanni has also named two members of New Zealand's bronze medal winning U-17 World Cup side in striker Gabi Rennie and goalkeeper Anna Leat.

Rennie could make her international debut if she is called upon during the Olympic Games. The 19-year-old is the only uncapped player in a squad that features 13 players from the Football Ferns recent World Cup side.

The team will be without the experience of defender Rebekah Stott and forward Rosie White. Stott is currently undergoing treatment for cancer while White has been in hospital battling illness.

This Olympic Games marks the beginning of the build-up to the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup on home soil - coincidentally they'll host the tournament alongside Australia, who are their group rivals at Tokyo 2020.

"A blend of experience and potential makes up the Football Ferns squad, and we are now starting to see some of our most exciting talent, already versed in succeeding at FIFA events, come through to the senior side," said Andrew Pragnell, CEO of NZ Football.

"For our men’s side, Tokyo 2020 helps to re-start preparations for qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

"The side is an incredible group of young talent, guided by some of our most accomplished senior players, which makes for a very dynamic team playing football for New Zealand in Tokyo," he added.

Both teams have been without international football since the COVID-19 pandemic and Tokyo 2020 will more than likely mark their return to international competition. For the Football Ferns they last played at the Algarve Cup against Norway in March 2020.

The Football Ferns will play in Group G alongside Rio 2016 silver medallist Sweden, three-peat World Cup champions USA and Trans-Tasman rivals Australia. They will open their campaign against Australia on 21 July at Tokyo Stadium.

The OlyWhites feature in Group B with AFC U-23 Asian Cup champions Republic of Korea, Pan American Games silver medallist Honduras and Romania. Their campaign gets underway against Republic of Korea on 22 July at the Ibaraki Kashima Stadium.

New Zealand Women’s football squad

Goalkeepers: Erin Nayler (Unattached), Anna Leat (FFDP)
Defenders: CJ Bott (Vålerenga), Meikayla Moore (Liverpool FC), Ali Riley (Orlando Pride), Claudia Bunge (Melbourne Victory), Abby Erceg (North Carolina Courage), Anna Green (Lower Hutt City AFC)*
Midfielders:
* Ria Percival (Tottenham Hotspur), Annalie Longo (Melbourne Victory), Katie Bowen (KC), Daisy Cleverley (Georgetown University), Olivia Chance (Brisbane Roar), Betsy Hassett (Stjarnan), Emma Rolston (Unattached)
Forwards: Hannah Wilkinson (Unattached), Paige Satchell (FFDP), Gabi Rennie (Indiana University)

Alternates: Elizabeth Anton (FFDP, NZ), Victoria Esson (Avaldsnes IL, Norway), Michaela Robertson (Lower Hutt City AFC, NZ), Marissa Van Der Meer (FFDP, NZ)

New Zealand Men's football squad

Goalkeepers: Michael Woud (Almere City FC), Jamie Searle (Swansea City AFC)
Defenders: Michael Boxall (Minnesota United), Liberato Cacace (Sint-Truidense VV), Callan Elliot (Xanthi FC), Dane Ingham (Perth Glory), Nando Pijnaker (Rio Ave FC), Winston Reid (West Ham United) or Tim Payne (Wellington Phoenix, NZ), George Stanger (Hamilton Academical)
Midfielders: Joe Bell (Viking FK), Clayton Lewis (Wellington Phoenix), Marko Stamenic (FC Copenhagen), Gianni Stensness (Central Coast Mariners)
Forwards: Joey Champness (Newcastle Jets), Elijah Just (FC Helsingør), Callum McCowatt (FC Helsingør), Ben Waine (Wellington Phoenix), Christopher Wood (Burnley FC)

Alternates: Matthew Garbett (Falkenbergs FF, Sweden), Ben Old (Wellington Phoenix, NZ), Alex Paulsen (Wellington Phoenix, NZ), Sam Sutton (Wellington Phoenix, NZ)

*Winston Reid is subject to availability and is therefore bracketed with Tim Payne