Football

Fifa World Cup 2019: NZ’s Ferns the Group E wildcard

Maia Jackman, a 50-cap Football Fern and SKY Television Fifa World Cup 2019 pundit, breaks down Group E.

For in-depth team-by-team previews, click on the links below.

GROUP E

New Zealand

Netherlands

Canada

Cameroon

Having never got out of the group stage that is the clear ambition for New Zealand at France 2019 – and I think they can achieve it if everything comes together and the squad are fit, especially our key players.

With a month-long build-up that has included matches against USA, England, Mexico and Wales, the Ferns go into the tournament having had the best preparation possible. Coach Tom Sermanni has done a really great job with the girls getting their culture back on track and they are very, very excited about getting over to France.

Group E is actually really tough, but that is the case with all of the groups. To qualify for the knockout stages the Ferns will likely need to get some sort of result out of matches against either the Dutch or Canada, and then beat Cameroon well.

That’s certainly doable.

Hopefully we’ll be in a good position after the first two matches against The Netherlands and then Canada and can relax and play with confidence against Cameroon.

This team will take confidence from the feat of the U17 girls who claimed third place at their World Cup last year. They showed that while New Zealand players might not have the best individuals in the world and might not be tactically and technically superior, they do have the determination and character to compete with the best teams in the world.  

Canada had a lot of success under former Ferns coach John Herdman – including two Olympic bronze medals - and that has continued now that Herdman has moved on. Claire Sinclair is a formidable striker who can be a real game-changer, so I’m picking Canada to take out the group.

The Netherlands are European champions, but the Ferns will go into that match feeling pretty good about their chances as they’ve had some good results against the Dutch in the past. On a good day, we’ll feel we can beat them.

New Zealand last played Cameroon at the Olympics in 2012, and beat them to get through to the quarterfinals. We’ll definitely need to repeat that result to progress in France 2019.

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