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Football Ferns ready to test themselves against world No.1 USA in front of sellout crowd

The Football Ferns feel like they're ready to test themselves against the top side in the world when they face the USA in front of a sold-out crowd this afternoon.

The Ferns, ranked 19 in the world, haven't beaten the US since they first played each other in 1987 while the Americans have won 14 of the other 15 encounters.

Coach Tom Sermanni, who coached the US women's national team for two years from 2013, said it's not just the talented roster his side will have to play against.

"I am expecting a very difficult game," Sermanni said.

"They will have 35,000 fans cheering them on. Well 34, 990 fans, we will probably have about 10 in the crowd. They are playing for positions in their team, and they have a very proud record here in the States. It will be a tough game for us tomorrow, but it will be very valuable part of our preparation."

Football Ferns captain Ali Riley isn't worried though.

"It is an amazing challenge," Riley said of playing the World No 1. 

"They will have all of the bells and whistles out tomorrow. It is a sell-out crowd. Obviously everyone is super excited to see the US National team before they head off to the World Cup in France."

Riley, who was born in California but qualifies for the Football Ferns through her Kiwi father, said it's special to face off with a team she knows well.

"I grew up with a lot of these girls and I am so impressed with what the US team has done both on and off the field. It is an amazing challenge and we know we don’t have much time left to prepare but what better way to see where we are and learn some lessons tomorrow.

"I believe in this team and I believe that we can get a result against the USA even though it is a huge challenge. These are the types of games that you play for. At the World Cup there will be a lot of pressure and a lot of fans, and this experience will be a good way for us to Segway into that."

Sermanni has 19 of his World Cup-bound players available for the match but defenders Rebekah Stott, CJ Bott, goalkeeper Vic Esson (club duties) and midfielder Betsy Hassett (broken wrist) weren't available for the international friendly.

Sermanni said that won't take away from the occassion though.

"It would be nice to have everybody here so we can get into some proper preparation, but we still have the vast majority of our squad. It just means with some players missing, other players get opportunities," he said.

"The result for this game is not going to be a definitive point for us. This game is part of our preparation for four weeks’ time and this will show us where we are at."

The match is the Kiwi side's penultimate warm-up before the World Cup with a match against England still to come before their campaign kicks off with a pool match against the Netherlands next month.

Today's friendly kicks off at 12pm NZT.

Ali Riley against Brazil.
Ali Riley against Brazil. Source: Photosport