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.
Well, that wasn’t ideal.
Canada were really good, they showed why they’re fifth in the world, and I don’t think they showed that against Cameroon. We have to give them a lot of credit, but at the same time we didn’t perform as well as we did against the Netherlands. We weren’t as aggressive, it felt a little bit flat out there and showed how a team who are that good can take advantage.
Tonight was not our night. Credit to @CanadaSoccerEN. To everyone who is supporting us in our dream to win our first @FIFAWWC game: keep sending the love our way. We’ve got one more chance and we still believe.
— Ali Riley (@RileyThree) June 15, 2019
We were all really disappointed the day after the Canada game and exhausted after a late night, so we were given the day off on Monday. Montpellier is beautiful, the sun’s shining, we’re right in the city, we celebrated another birthday and the refreshed energy yesterday at training was amazing. We had some team activities last night and we’re buzzing – another good training session today and I think we’re ready.
This is the biggest game of my World Cup career. It’s this weird deja vu feeling to have the Netherlands and Canada in the group again, and Cameroon who we had to beat at the 2012 Olympics to go through to the quarter-finals. That game was the biggest in my championship tournament life so far, but the World Cup is the pinnacle event of women’s football, maybe women’s sport.
“The level is so much higher and I’m so glad that the media is taking notice”
To have this chance after three times of trying and failing, this is the biggest game for any of us. We talked yesterday about the maths we need to qualify, but you can get bogged down in all of that. We’ve collectively decided that we need to focus on our game first and win, and not think too much about the specifics. There’s so many numbers and different results, so it’s just all about putting in the preparation so we win the game.
We knew Cameroon would be athletic and have some really good individuals, but their defence is so organised. Canada and the Netherlands couldn’t slice through them – they get back and get organised, sitting pretty low. I don’t know if they’ll do that against us because they also have to win to go through, so I think the game should open up a bit.
The level is so much higher all around the tournament, and I’m so glad that the media is taking notice. This is how it would be at a men’s World Cup, and that’s what we’ve been talking about and fighting for.