Australia is a sports-mad nation with a long tradition of champions in other sports, but has never made it past the round of 16 at the Women’s World Cup. Rugby nation New Zealand is used to living on the fringes of the sport’s biggest event, but has never won the competition.
But two years of planning and preparation will come to an end on Thursday when the two countries open their doors on the biggest stage in women’s football.
Australia, who will face Ireland in Sydney, arrive feeling that this may finally be the year they make their way into the sport’s elite. New Zealand, who will face Norway in Auckland in the tournament’s first leg, have more modest ambitions. However, this week he did not concede anything.
“We are always seen as underdogs,” New Zealand co-captain Leah Percival said Wednesday. “And for our part, we’ve always paced ourselves, so tomorrow we’ll do exactly the same in the first game. We’re excited to be here and ready to go.”