12 Aug 2008

Football Ferns need good win against defending champions

2:05 pm on 12 August 2008

The New Zealand women's Football Ferns will know how far they've come when they play Athens gold medallists the United States in their must-win match in Shenyang tonight.

After promising performances against two top-10 nations - a 2-2 draw against world number 10 Japan and a narrow one-nill loss to fifth-ranked Norway, the world number 24-ranked Football Ferns must take a step up to topple the world's best side and become the first New Zealand team to reach the quarterfinals of a FIFA tournament.

The top two teams from each of the three groups, along with the two best third-placed sides, progress to the quarter-finals with nothing less than a win good enough for New Zealand to follow either path to the final eight.

The USA - in second place with three points - are in pole position to join the two-wins-from-two Norwegians in the second stage, but with a goal difference of minus one, a draw may not be good enough for the Americans to book a quarter-final ticket if Japan beat Norway.

New Zealand coach John Herdman is expecting a battle and says regardless of what the team is thinking the psychology is they need to win.

Herdman says at least three points is a minimum.