Football Ferns eliminated from World Cup

New Zealand's Jacqui Hand in action against Switzerland, 2023 FIFA World Cup. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

New Zealand is out of the FIFA World Cup following a 0-0 draw with Switzerland in their final Group A game in Dunedin.

The Football Ferns started the game in second place in their group but dropped to third after Norway beat the Philippines 6-0 in the other group game in Auckland.

Switzerland with five points and Norway with four points qualified for the round of 16.

New Zealand also finished with four points but missed out because of an inferior goal differential to the Norwegians.

Once again the Ferns had their fair share of possession, but were unable to get into good goal scoring position.

Roared on by a near-capacity crowd of 25,947 at the indoor Dunedin Stadium, New Zealand lacked nothing in effort but could not find the goal they needed to progress.

“I can’t ask any more of the players. There’s a lot of tears out there but they should be so proud,” New Zealand co-captain Ali Riley said. “We fought really hard… There’s such disappointment but I want everyone to be proud of what we’ve achieved.

“I really think that we’ve inspired the country. I hope that little girls across New Zealand and the world now will start playing sport and feel like they can achieve whatever they put their mind to and just dream bigger.

“I just hope that this opens so many doors and opportunities for young girls. We wanted to inspire, we wanted to honour the Ferns that came before us and this team did that. I’m so proud of them.”

Jacqui Hand and Olivia Chance both hit the post while Katie Bowen’s shot was blocked as New Zealand pushed for an opener and looked more likely to score.

Switzerland looked more comfortable after the break, with Seraina Piubel slicing a left-footed shot wide off the mark before being ruled offside, while New Zealand struggled in the final third.

Malia Steinmetz’s strike from the edge of the penalty area was saved as New Zealand became increasingly frantic in their efforts – goalkeeper Victoria Esson headed wide in the closing minutes – but Switzerland held firm and saw out the draw.

“I know (it’s) super emotional now because everybody’s disappointed about the result but this team can be so proud,” New Zealand coach Jitka Klimkova said. “There are so many positives that we are taking away from the whole experience.

“Our crowd showed how much they care… I feel that the nation is behind us and I really am thankful for that because they are part of this journey and part of us.”

New Zealand beat Norway 1-0 in the opening game and lost 1-0 to Philippines in their second.

It was the sixth time New Zealand had competed at the FIFA World Cup and they are still to move past group play.

Their win over Norway in the opening game was their first ever at a finals tournament.

Source: RNZ