Tom Sermanni will try to direct New Zealand into the 2019 Women’s World Cup. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

By Michael Lewis Editor

Former U.S. women’s national coach Tom Sermanni has a new challenge — as coach of the New Zealand national team.

In fact, he will be jumping into the fire for the Ferns as he will guide the team in November’s Oceania Football Confederation Women’s Nation’s Cup, which serves as a qualifying arm to the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France.

The OFC champion will qualify for the Women’s World Cup.

Sermanni, who most recently directed the Orlando Pride in the National Women’s Soccer League, also has coached the Australian national side and the New York Power in the defunct Women’s United Soccer Association.

Andrew Pragnell, the Interim NZ Football Chief Executive, said it was great to have a coach of Sermanni’s experience coaching the Football Ferns in the business end of the FIFA World Cup cycle.

“Tom comes to New Zealand with an incredible amount of experience and we are pleased to have coach of his calibre leading the Ferns as they look to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup and compete with the best teams in the world,” New Zealand interim football chief executive Andrew Pragnell said in a statement.

“We completed a rigorous recruitment process and Tom presented a great plan and vision for the Football Ferns. We believe he will do a great job in developing the Ferns over the next nine months and we look forward to seeing what the Ferns can achieve in this period.

“It has obviously been a challenging period for the Football Ferns, but following the release of the independent review we are looking forward.”

Sermanni, who last Saturday introduced new inductee National Soccer Hall of Fame ceremonies in Frisco, Texas, said he was looking forward to working with the 20th-ranked women’s team in the world.

“I’m delighted to be given the challenge of qualifying the Football Ferns for the World Cup in France next year,” he told RNZ Radio. “During my time in coaching I’ve always had a close relationship with the team and I am very pleased to have the opportunity to lead the program during this exciting time.”

New Zealand interim technical director Andy Boyens, a member of the Red Bulls from 2008-10, noted Sermanni has enjoyed success at the highest levels of the sport. He guided the Matildas to a pair of Women’s World Cup quarterfinals.

“Tom has the experience to bring the group together in a short time frame in order to perform to their potential during qualifying and if successful, on to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup,” Boyens said.

“Tom has a good understanding of that current playing group that will enable him to hit the ground running. He also has a passion for football in this part of the world and will be a great cultural fit for New Zealand Football and the Football Ferns.”

The OFC Women’s Nations Cup will be held in New Caledonia from Nov. 18-Dec. 1. Defending champions New Zealand will face Tonga, the Cook Islands and Fiji in Group B. Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Tahiti and New Caledonia will compete in Group A.