New Zealand will be hoping for a fairytale as co-hosts of the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
The Football Ferns are winless in their 15 previous World Cup games but will carry the momentum of having a home crowd behind them as they look to make it out of the groups for the first ever time. Can they do it?
Latest New Zealand odds to win the Women’s World Cup
|New Zealand to win the Women’s World Cup||–|
|New Zealand to reach the semi-finals||30/1|
|New Zealand to win Group A||11/4|
|Hannah Wilkinson to win Golden Boot||50/1|
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New Zealand’s route to the Women’s World Cup Final
Group Stage fixtures
|New Zealand 1-0 Norway||Eden Park||20 July, 8am BST|
|New Zealand 0-1 Philippines||Wellington Regional Stadium||25 July, 6:30am BST|
|Switzerland vs New Zealand||Forsyth Barr Stadium||30 July, 8am BST|
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Who could New Zealand meet in the knockout rounds?
If New Zealand upset the odds and win Group A, they’d face the runners-up of Group C in the round of 16, expected to be Japan. In the quarter-finals, the winners of Group E or Group G’s runners-up await, which everyone would expect to be the United States — two former champions in two knockout rounds.
Should New Zealand get all the way to the semi-finals, they would in all likelihood face the winners of Group C or Group G, where Spain or Sweden could be involved. And then in the final, the likes of England, Germany, France and Canada are all potential opponents.
|Route as Group A winners||Potential Opponent|
|Round of 16||Japan|
If New Zealand finish as runners-up in Group A, they’d face the Group C winners, with many expecting that to be Spain. Then it’d be the winner of Group G or Group E’s runners-up, which could bring in the likes of Sweden or Netherlands
In all likelihood it’d be the Winner of Group A or Group E’s runners-up in the semi-finals, where USA would be expected. Then in the final, the likes of England, Germany and Canada could await.
|Route as Group A runners-up||Potential Opponent|
|Round of 16||Spain|
Confirmed New Zealand Women’s World Cup squad
|Anna Leat||Goalkeeper||22||Aston Villa|
|Erin Nayler||Goalkeeper||31||IFK Norrkoping|
|Katie Bowen||Defender||29||Melbourne City|
|Ali Riley||Defender||35||Angel City|
|Claudia Bunge||Defender||23||Melbourne Victory|
|Elizabeth Anton||Defender||24||Perth Glory|
|Michaela Foster||Defender||24||Wellington Phoenix|
|Annalie Longo||Midfielder||32||Christchurch United|
|Betsy Hassett||Midfielder||32||Wellington Phoenix|
|Malia Steinmetz||Midfielder||24||Western Sydney Wanderers|
|Hannah Wilkinson||Forward||31||Melbourne City|
|Paige Satchell||Forward||25||Wellington Phoenix|
|Gabi Rennie||Forward||21||Arizona State Sun Devils|
|Grace Jale||Forward||24||Canberra United|
|Milly Clegg||Forward||17||Western Sydney Wanderers|
|Indiah-Paige Riley||Forward||21||Brisbane Roar|
|Jacqui Hand||Forward||24||Aland United|
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New Zealand players to watch at this year’s Women’s World Cup
New Zealand World Cup Golden Boot contender – Hannah Wilkinson
If New Zealand have hopes of making it past the group stage, they’ll need Hannah Wilkinson to lead the line well. The 31-year-old has scored 28 goals for New Zealand across her 113 appearances to date and only three players have netted more for the nation, with Wendy Sharpe and Sarah Gregorius within touching distance, both on 34. Wilkinson plays her club football for Melbourne City in Australia’s A-League Women and has scored six times in 14 appearances so far this season, decent preparation for the World Cup. But it’s worth noting that New Zealand have been struggling for goals of late, failing to score in eight of their past 10 games, which have also brought eight defeats and two draws.
New Zealand player to watch – Rebekah Stott
Whatever happens for New Zealand this summer, it’ll be a feel good moment when Rebekah Stott steps onto the pitch at the World Cup. Just over two years ago, Stott was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and had to take a break from football to battle cancer. From diagnosis in March 2021, Stott underwent chemotherapy which saw her miss the Olympics but she did make an appearance for Bulleen Lions in mid-August, an eight-minute cameo which marked the start of her return. Just a week later, Stott confirmed that she was in complete remission, incidentally finding out on a day she had initially been set to represent New Zealand at the Olympics. Fast forward just one year from her first diagnosis, Stott made her return to the Football Ferns set up and now the dream is for her to step out at the World Cup — something she used as motivation during chemo.
New Zealand emerging player to look out for – Milly Clegg
A member of New Zealand’s squad at the Under-20 Women’s World Cup just under a year ago as a 16-year-old, Milly Clegg has been on an interesting journey through the ranks over the past 12 months. As well as scoring in the tournament in Costa Rica, Clegg also dropped down a few age groups to represent New Zealand at the Under-17 Women’s World Cup in India, finding the net twice. Clegg, who turns 18 in November, earned her first New Zealand call up in April and has already made four appearances for the Football Ferns. She is also preparing for a new club after the World Cup, joining A-League Women’s side Western Sydney Wanderers in her first professional contract having scored four goals in New Zealand’s Liberty A-League for Wellington Phoenix — more than any other teammate.
“As touted by the local media and experts, Milly Clegg is the best centre-forward prospect New Zealand has produced in at least a decade,” Western Sydney Wanderers head coach Kat Smith said.
“It was evident that when given A-league minutes, her presence on the pitch was pivotal and, in most cases, resulted in the ball in the back of the net. This notable emergence has caught our eye and can turn the dial on our attacking plights.
“She’s got pace, skill, technique, vision and thrilling, raw ability.”
New Zealand tactical analysis & formation at the World Cup
Mike Bassett would be proud watching the World Cup this summer as New Zealand most often operate in the no-nonsense 4-4-2 formation, favoured by Jitka Klimkova — though there has been some variation at times. In their recent friendly against Vietnam, Ali Riley — who wears the No.7 jersey — shifted over from right-back to left-back, with CJ Bott coming in on the other flank and Rebekah Stott and Katie Bowen sitting between. Erin Nayler looks nailed on to be goalkeeper, though Victoria Esson did keep a clean sheet against Vietnam.
Moving to the midfield, veteran Betsy Hassett is a shoo-in to start as one of the two central midfielders, expected to be partnered by Daisy Cleverley, though Malia Steinmetz does provide stiff competition. The flanks are very important to New Zealand’s style of play, so Grace Jale and Olivia Chance are the likeliest options – with their partnership with the full-backs key. Up front, Wilkinson will likely be joined by Gabi Rennie, who scored on debut against Australia at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
Where are New Zealand in the FIFA world rankings?
New Zealand are currently 26th in the FIFA world rankings, dropping one in the recent update to fall to their lowest ever.
Who is the New Zealand manager?
Jitka Klimkova is the current New Zealand manager, taking charge of the Football Ferns in 2021 with previous history in the nation’s youth system and as assistant.
Who is the current New Zealand captain?
Ali Riley is New Zealand captain, first donning the armband in 2017.
How many times have New Zealand won the World Cup?
New Zealand have never won the World Cup, still awaiting their first victory.
How many times have New Zealand competed in the World Cup?
This will be New Zealand’s sixth appearance at the World Cup, though they have failed to make it out of the groups in each of their previous five occasions.
Who has scored New Zealand’s most goals in World Cup tournaments?
Hannah Wilkinson is New Zealand’s top scorer in World Cup tournaments, netting two goals across 2011 and 2015. There are five other players with one goal.