New Zealand’s Ali Riley (left) joined team manager Jitka Klimkova at a press event ahead of the inaugural game of the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
Fifa Women’s World Cup 2023: New Zealand vs. Norway
Date: Thursday, 20 July Venue: Eden Park, Auckland Kick-off: 08:00 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Sounds, and the Sport Newes Center website & app. Full coverage details; latest news
New Zealand, co-hosts of the event, are in a positive space and primed to make a mark at the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup, according to manager Jitka Klimkova.
An anticipated crowd of 40,000 fans will be present at Eden Park, Auckland, for the tournament’s kickoff match, where the Football Ferns will face Norway, the 1995 world champions.
This is an enormous opportunity for New Zealand, who are yet to taste victory in their previous five World Cup showings.
“I have a strong belief that our players will excel,” declared Klimkova.
“The strenuous training and preparation have led us to where we are currently. We’ve done all the groundwork; now is the time to make an impact.”
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This marks only the second instance of the Football Ferns playing at Eden Park, a symbolic location for the All Blacks.
During their inaugural game at New Zealand’s national stadium, a friendly against the world champions United States in January, a record home crowd of 12,721 supporters attended for the women’s national team.
The opening match of the month-long tournament, featuring 64 games, is expected to draw a crowd more than triple that size.
“It’s a chance for New Zealand to awaken a passion for football, shifting from being purely a rugby country,” added Czech coach Klimkova.
‘The Pinnacle Match of My Career’
Despite having played the highest number of Women’s World Cup games – 15 – without a win, New Zealand eyes a milestone in their sixth global tournament appearance. With the home crowd cheering them on, they are hopeful of advancing to the knockout stages for the first time.
Post their game against Norway, who are ranked 12th worldwide – 14 places above New Zealand, the Football Ferns will play against World Cup first-timers the Philippines in Wellington on 25 July, followed by their group campaign’s final match against Switzerland in Dunedin five days later.
“With the home advantage, we aim to secure our first World Cup win; that would be the crowning moment of my career,” claimed New Zealand co-captain Ali Riley.
It is anticipated that Ria Percival from Tottenham and Brighton defender Rebekah Stott will be in action.
Hannah Wilkinson, the last Kiwi to score at a World Cup in 2015, is set to spearhead her national team.
Norway, the quarter-finalists at the previous World Cup held in France in 2019, are prepared to make an impact?
Norwegian team manager Hege Riise expressed that her team eagerly anticipates playing amidst a strong home crowd.
“I believe that New Zealand, backed by 40,000 supporters, will rise to the occasion and pose a formidable challenge,” added the former England interim boss.
Norway suffered a devastating 8-0 defeat to England during the Euro 2022 under the leadership of former manager Martin Sjogren.
Caroline Graham Hansen, a double Champions League victor with Barcelona, believes the World Cup is a chance for the Norwegian team to rebound.
“We regret not being able to achieve more in recent tournaments,” she confessed.
“However, we’re striving to create a meaningful difference.”
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about 2023 Women’s World Cup New Zealand
When is the first game of the 2023 Women’s World Cup taking place?
The inaugural game of the 2023 Women’s World Cup will be held on Thursday, 20 July.
Who are the opponents in the first match of the 2023 Women’s World Cup?
The first match of the 2023 Women’s World Cup will be between New Zealand and Norway.
Where is the first match of the 2023 Women’s World Cup being held?
The inaugural match of the 2023 Women’s World Cup will be held at Eden Park, Auckland.
How many matches will be held during the month-long 2023 Women’s World Cup tournament?
The 2023 Women’s World Cup tournament will feature 64 matches.
Who is the coach of the New Zealand women’s football team for the 2023 Women’s World Cup?
The coach of the New Zealand women’s football team for the 2023 Women’s World Cup is Jitka Klimkova.
Who is the last player from New Zealand to score in a Women’s World Cup?
Hannah Wilkinson is the last player from New Zealand to score in a Women’s World Cup, which was in 2015.
Who are some key players expected to play for New Zealand in the 2023 Women’s World Cup?
Key players expected to play for New Zealand in the 2023 Women’s World Cup include Ria Percival, Rebekah Stott, and Hannah Wilkinson.
Who is the coach of the Norway women’s football team for the 2023 Women’s World Cup?
Hege Riise is the coach of the Norway women’s football team for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.