Today at the World Cup Co hosts Australia and New Zealand play in opening games


Today at the World Cup: Co-hosts Australia and New Zealand play in opening games

Co-hosts New Zealand and Australia are in action on the opening day of the World Cup finals as their big moment finally arrives.

The Football Ferns kick off the tournament against Norway at Eden Park in Auckland before the Matildas host the Republic of Ireland side in front of a sold-out 80,000 crowd at Stadium Australia in Sydney.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at an eagerly-anticipated opening day.

A different ball game

New Zealand head coach Jitka Klimkova has challenged her players to make football as popular as rugby in the southern hemisphere nation with their exploits in the tournament.

The All Blacks are three-times Rugby World Cup winners, while the Black Ferns have lifted the women’s version on six occasions and are the current holders.

Klimkova told a press conference: “I really believe this is an incredible opportunity for this country to not be just a rugby country, but to actually really also wake up the love of football.”

The Football Ferns, who are playing at their sixth finals but are yet to win a match, are ranked 26th in the world by FIFA and will have to upset the odds if they are to launch their campaign with a victory over the 12th-placed Norwegians.

Play it again, Sam

Sam Kerr is happy to bear the weight of expectation as Australia target World Cup glory.

The Matildas’ record goalscorer with 63, Chelsea striker Kerr insists she is used to the pressure of having to deliver on the big stage.

She told a press conference: “I guess for me the expectation has been growing over four years so it’s been something I’ve learned to deal with.

“I think I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m really proud we have a home World Cup, and to be part of this journey is amazing. I’m really excited for it.

“Of course everyone in Australia has a lot of expectations, but it’s something I take in my stride and I try to just enjoy.

“Back at Chelsea I’ve done that too, just enjoyed it, and that’s when I’m my best me.”

Dictionary corner

Republic of Ireland boss Vera Pauw is predicting her team’s “outbelieve” slogan will end up in the dictionary if they continue to defy expectations.

Ireland got the better of Sweden, Finland and, in a dramatic play-off, Scotland to reach the finals of a major tournament for the first time, and they will need to scale new heights if they are the emerge from a group which includes top-10 sides Australia and Canada, as well as Nigeria.

Pauw said: “That word will end up in the dictionary because we outbelieve we can do something special here.

“That is how we ended up here because we outbelieve and we did something that nobody expected, but we are realistic.

“We are very realistic, otherwise you cannot succeed, but the key thing everybody will feel is we have no fear of failure.”

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Up next

July 20

Group A: New Zealand v Norway (8am, Eden Park, Auckland)

Group B: Australia v Republic of Ireland (11am, Stadium Australia, Sydney)

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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