?New Zealand captain Ali Riley is a columnist for 90min at the Women’s World Cup in France this summer, as the Football Ferns look to secure the country’s first World Cup win.
Let’s start with the obvious one. Everyone’s disappointed with the last minute loss to the Netherlands, but I think we all feel that we gave everything we could – and we haven’t felt that way in any of our World Cup games before.
It’s frustrating, but everyone who watched has been so complimentary, and we really showed that this team should be taken seriously and that we’ve come a long way.
What we want to avoid – and sometimes it’s hard – when the result is like that is people who don’t watch back in New Zealand saying ‘Oh they still haven’t won a game in the World Cup’ and blah blah blah. I mean, the Netherlands is ranked eighth in the world; but it still sucks that it ended like that.
We’ve showed now for a few games how well we can defend and that we can keep some of the best players in the world from doing what they want to do. Obviously we needed the last game to be two minutes shorter, but we had our chances, three really good chances that could have changed everything completely.
The first game is a tough one, there’s a lot of nerves, and it was basically like we were playing in the Netherlands. Just this sea of orange. We’ll be in a similar place in the next game; Canada has some great players, they’re ranked higher than us, top team, top players.
We’ve had so much less preparation than all these other teams, so every time we play together we get better and that’s something we know from experience. Of course we’re looking for our first win and get out of the group, but for all our senior players, and those of us at our fourth World Cup, we want a feeling that we did everything we could. After that, football is football.
We travelled yesterday and had a pool recovery session, but we’re back training and preparing for Canada today. One of the big things is coming out of the Netherlands game with no injuries, and everyone’s feeling good. This team is really fit and physically really strong and everyone’s healthy the mindset is just we were given today to kind of regroup but I think everyone’s ready.
We’re all getting along so well off the pitch, too. There’s a huge coffee culture, similar to England – the girls love their coffee and we’re always looking to cafes and just places to chill. We’ve got Hannah Wilkinson who’s amazing on the guitar, and CJ Bott is our resident beautician so she’s always braiding everyone’s hair into cornbraids, doing eyebrows, tinting lashes, painting nails and that kind of thing.
I think it’s a really good group because we are so close and everyone knows each other. Some people really like to be social, whereas I can kind of get into just tour mode where I’m happy to lounge around in my room and do nothing but rest and train.
We’re in Grenoble now, and there’s a lot more going on than in Le Havre. That was a pretty sleepy town and a lot of things were closed – there were a couple of holidays while we were there – and it is hard, but obviously training breaks it up.
The sun is out here, and we’ve had a few birthdays too! It was Rosie White’s birthday and she wanted us to…I don’t know if we actually looked French, but we had a French vibe going. We all had the stripy tees and got some cheese, so we’re really getting into the spirit here…even if our French is horrible in terms of the language.
All of our families and friends are here now too, so that’s really nice. I had some family and friends at the Netherlands game, and my aunt and uncle and cousin and his wife are on their way to the Canada game.
Oh, and one last thing. We’re trying to get my roommate Rosie White to 10,000 followers in Instagram – she’s got 8,000 now so we’re doing a big push. You can follow her ?here!