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Aug 17, 2007

New Zealand - Looking for recognition

With Australia's move to the Asian Football Confederation, New Zealand took full advantage with a 100% record in the Oceanic World Cup qualifying tournament, which was based in Papua New Guinea in April 2007.

While the average age of John Herdman's side at the qualifying event in Papua New Guinea was just 22, the nucleus of the team is provided by a handful of experienced players including defenders Maia Jackman and Rebecca Smith plus 35-year-old striker Wendi Henderson.

Jackman was selected for the Women's All Stars team which played China before the official draw for the tournament. Smith is one of the only full-time professionals in the New Zealand side. And Henderson is only the third New Zealand player to have reached 50 caps.

New Zealand booked the last spot in China by flying through the Oceania World Cup qualifying tournament with wins over Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Tonga with a plus-20 goal difference and only a single goal conceded.

New Zealand's only previous FIFA Women's World Cup appearance was China 1991 in which they lost all three of their first round games. The team will certainly be looking for an improvement and recognition on the world stage.