A night to remember for New Zealand Football

Malia Steinmetz of New Zealand and Co-captain Ria Percival of New Zealand celebrate their 1-0 win over Norway Photo: PHOTOSPORT

It was a night to remember for the Football Ferns and New Zealand after the team launched the FIFA World Cup in sublime fashion with a shock win over former World Cup winners Norway.

Only the most ardent Football Ferns fans would have truly believed New Zealand could cause an upset in their opening game of the tournament.

The 1-0 victory in front of a record 42,000 strong crowd at Eden Park on Thursday has written the Football Ferns into the history books with their first ever World Cup win.

Hannah Wilkinson has scored some important goals for New Zealand but none more so than her 48th-minute strike that was the difference maker against the former World Cup winners who are ranked 12th in the world – 14 places higher than the Football Ferns.

“I was really proud to be able to do that for all the Kiwis that came out in the cold and supported us.

“So proud to do that for my team, I am just so stoked honestly.”

Fans were kept on the edge of their seat as nearly 10 minutes of additional time was added before they could celebrate in the stands.

Defensive midfielder Katie Bowen also felt relief when time was up.

“When I saw the nine minutes I thought oh you’ve got to be kidding me, so we just needed to clear every ball and then when she (the referee) blew that final whistle I was just like thanking god.”

NZ's Hannah Wilkinson scores the opening goal of the tournament.

NZ’s Hannah Wilkinson scores the opening goal of the tournament. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Under coach Jitka Klimkova’s guidance the Football Ferns have struggled to win games and score goals but she says after a nine week preparation camp she knew the win was possible.

“Before the game we were very calm, I think that was one of the most focused moments that I have seen this team being in.

“We started really believing that we could do it.”

The Ferns could have scored a second goal, but co-captain Ria Percival’s attempt hit the cross bar.

Midfielder Malia Steinmetz is at her first world cup but she knows what this result means for those like Percival who is at her fifth world cup.

“When that final whistle blew I couldn’t believe it and I hugged Ria.

“Ria and all the old girls that have been there and made this team and all the past Ferns I think we did it for them and all the future Ferns coming through.”

Midfielder Katie Bowen says the Football Ferns have ticked off one of their aims for the tournament but she doesn’t think they are done yet.

“You accept the three points and you’re really happy with it but you can’t lie on this, that’s done and now it’s onto the next one.”

The next one is the Philippines in Wellington on Tuesday.

Source: RNZ