New Zealand has returned the focus to domestic games again after the attention on the Rio Olympic Games, and the Under 17 World Cup.

Coach Leon Birnie has named the squad set to participate in the forthcoming Under 20 World Cup in Papua New Guinea but the spotlight will be on the domestic scene this weekend at the National Women’s League.

The defending champions, Northern, are set to start their title defence with a trip to Central. WaiBOP will face Capital, while Auckland will trade tackles with Canterbury United Pride. Aside these games, Senior Football Ferns and youth international games are set to hold. Northern will definitely face stiff competition if they want to retain their title.

Northern have a new coach in Korouch Monsef who has been tasked with maintaining the success at the club after former coach Paul Greig exited.

“I think the expectations are quite high because in recent years we’ve had such a competitive team. It’s been a bit of disjointed pre-season. We’ve had the Under 17 girls away for the last couple of weeks but the rest of the players have stuck to their task and worked exceptionally hard so we’re definitely ready to go,” the boss said.

He added that the rest of the coaching staff which were selected from the prominent clubs have helped the new look of the squad.

“The staff have come from the region’s three prominent clubs and I think the knowledge of their players from their own environment has helped. It’s actually been quite an easy transition and it looks like a cohesive unit,” Monsef revealed.

Most of the players in the winning team just returned from the FIFA Under 17 Women World Cup in Jordan and will be crucial if Northern are to retain their crown this term.