Fifa World Cup will 'wake up' New Zealand's love for football, says coach | Inquirer Sports

Fifa World Cup will ‘wake up’ New Zealand’s love for football, says coach

/ 07:45 PM July 19, 2023

New Zealand women's football

New Zealand’s Ali Riley (L) and team’s coach Jitka Klimkova attend a press conference at the Eden Park in Auckland on July 19, 2023, ahead of the Women’s World Cup football tournament. (Photo by Saeed KHAN / AFP)

Staging the Women’s World Cup will “wake up” New Zealand’s passion for football, the co-hosts’ coach Jitka Klimkova said on Wednesday’s eve of the tournament.

Football remains well behind rugby, cricket and other sports in popularity in New Zealand, which is jointly hosting the World Cup with Australia.


New Zealand has also never won a Women’s World Cup game in 15 attempts, but they hope to change that when they face the 1995 champions Norway in the first game of the tournament on Thursday in Auckland.


“It is an opportunity for this country to not just be a rugby country but wake up their love for football,” said their Czech coach Klimkova.

Taking up the theme, captain Ali Riley added: “Hopefully this time we will achieve our goal of winning a World Cup game and doing that at home, and that will make it my greatest game of my career.

“This feels like an opportunity with the sporting culture, inspiring young people.”

After facing Norway at the 50,000-capacity Eden Park — better known for hosting the All Blacks rugby team — New Zealand face minnows the Philippines and Switzerland in Group A.

New Zealand is ranked 26th in the world and has won just once in their last 11 matches, but Klimkova is backing them to shine in front of their own fans.

“The hard work and preparation brought us to where we are now,” she said.


“At this stage, the preparation is done and now it is time to shine, and I really believe these players will shine.”


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TAGS: Fifa Women’s World Cup

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