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Football Ferns coach Jitka Klimková will have her side back together for a pair of matches in South Korea later this month.
Football Ferns coach Jitka Klimková could see her vision for the team starting to come to life in their second match against Canada last month.
They improved across the two meetings in Ottawa and Montreal, going from a 5-1 defeat to a 1-0 loss.
But before they’d even played that second match, she was already thinking about what was next, letting slip that a tour of South Korea in November was on her mind.
Jitka Klimkova has been appointed as the new coach of the Football Ferns through to 2027
A pair of matches in Ganyong on November 27 and 30 were confirmed on Thursday. They will be the Ferns’ last fixtures in 2021 and a chance for them to build on the progress they made in Canada.
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The October fixtures against the reigning Olympic champions were Klimková’s first since taking charge of the Ferns on a six-year contract through to the 2027 World Cup.
In the first, they gifted Canada two first-half goals then faded late while scoring a consolation penalty. In the second, they went behind early, but were generally more competitive, pressing their opponents and showing good composure on the ball.
Klimková said it had helped that the team had been receptive to adopting a more progressive style of play.
“It really helped that they wanted to play a similar way to what my vision is,” she said at the end of the tour.
“I didn’t present my vision first, I asked them first, and then I put their thoughts and my thoughts together, and it was very similar.
“We want to possess, we want to keep the ball, and we want to win the ball as soon as possible.
“In the second game, I could see it. I could see the way how we want to play.”
South Korea were also in North America last month, holding the United States to a 0-0 draw in their first match before suffering a 6-0 defeat in their second.
They missed out on a place at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year when they lost to China in a playoff but will still be a tough opponent for the Ferns to beat.
The two nations have met 11 times since 1996, with New Zealand winning just once – that year – and drawing five times – three of them that year – while losing the other five encounters.
It has been 14 matches since the Ferns last won a match in 90 minutes – against England on the eve of the 2019 World Cup.
Since then, they’ve had 13 losses and a penalty shootout win over Belgium at the 2020 Algarve Cup. In that time they’ve scored just four goals from open play, as well as an own goal and Ria Percival’s penalty against Canada.
Goal-scoring chances were rare for the Ferns in their two losses in October, and they largely settled for low-value shots from distance.
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Klimková acknowledged at the end of the tour that the Ferns needed to work on “being more patient” and “being more creative” in the final third, but said it would take some time.
“First we need to talk about how to get there and more often, and then we can talk about how we could be more efficient there.
“As a coach I like a structure and I want to see step by step the evolution.
“For me, it’s first important to get from our defensive third to the middle third, and when we know that we are very comfortable with it, then we go from the middle third to the final third, and then that’s the finale of our style of play.”
Football Ferns – November international window
Saturday, November 27, 6pm: v South Korea; Goyang Stadium, Goyang
Wednesday, November 30, 11pm: v South Korea; Goyang Stadium, Goyang