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New Zealands: the underdogs joint host the World Cup.

With the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 set to take place in just over a week, New Zealand are set to make history, as they prepare to joint host the World Cup with Australia this summer. This will be the first women’s World Cup where two nations will be hosting the venue.

Hosting the biggest tournament possible will come with masses amounts of pressure. And that is exactly what New Zealand are under at this moment in time. This will be the nation’s sixth time appearing at a World Cup, in which they bode a miserable record in the competition. The Football Ferns have never won a game of football at the World Cup, despite their best attempts in 15 matches. But what better way to turn that ship around than on home soil?

New Zealand head coach, Jitka Klimkova, is aware that they will be heading into the tournament as underdogs, and she has warned her players that they must be ‘gritty’ if they are to end their 32-year wait of a first win.

Spurs player, Ria Percival, will be in assistance looking to help break their duck. The 33-year-old is the most capped player in the history of the national side; with plenty of experience behind her, she will be looking to utilise her experiences in a positive manor for the host nation. She is included in the side along with two other veterans, Annalie Longo, 31 & Ali Riley, 35, as all three players will extend their run of participating in every World Cup since 2007.

New Zealand have been seeded into group A, where they will face Norway, Switzerland, and Philippines. In what is an arguably favourable group, New Zealand have a good chance of making it past the group stages for the first time. But, things on paper never often materialise. Norway, despite not being the side they once were, are former World and European champions, so the task of getting anything from them will be a huge job.

It's worth to point out that the Football Ferns don’t arrive at the tournament in great form. They are currently winless in 2023, having lost every game except for one, where they settled for a 1-1 draw against Iceland. They have been hammered twice by current two-time world champions, USA, losing 0-4 and 0-5. They have also suffered a heavy 0-5 defeat at the hands of Portugal, and last year they lost 2-0 to Norway, who they will open up this year’s tournament with. They do still have one friendly match left to play in preparation, as New Zealand will look to turn their recent fortunes around when they host Vietnam.

Forward Hannah Wilkinson looks set to lead the line; her 28 goals for her country will hopefully mark a stamp on defences, as she will look to grab goals for this side.

But ranked 24th in the world, New Zealand will be looking to prove the doubters and the bookies all wrong. They have one sole goal of this tournament on their home grown patch: Winning their first game at a World Cup.

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