New Zealand “set a new standard” for themselves by winning a Women’s World Cup match for the first time, defender CJ Bott said Sunday, as the co-hosts eye a landmark place in the knockout stages.
The Football Ferns had never won a game in 15 attempts at the finals before defeating former champions Norway 1-0 in Auckland on Thursday in the opening match of the tournament.
Now they face the Philippines on Tuesday knowing that another victory could secure their place in the last 16 even before their final Group A match against Switzerland.
“I’d like to think we don’t have a ceiling,” said Bott, the Leicester City defender, when asked how far New Zealand could go.
“You should never set yourself limits. The Norway game has set a new standard for us and we don’t go down from there.”
After that opening result anything less than a win against debutants the Philippines in Wellington would be considered a disappointment.
New Zealand is not traditionally a football nation but the team’s historic success, thanks to Hannah Wilkinson’s goal, has thrust them into the spotlight like never before.
The victory over Norway was watched at Eden Park by over 42,000 fans, a national record crowd for football in the country, men’s or women’s.
“I think we still in a sense have the weight of the country on our shoulders,” added the 28-year-old Bott.
“There is always a certain amount of pressure but it has given us the boost we need and we have taken a lot of confidence from it.”
The New Zealand team faced disruption late Saturday when they were forced to evacuate their hotel in central Auckland because of a fire.
Local media reported a man had been arrested and charged with burglary and arson after the incident, which came less than 72 hours after a deadly shooting in Auckland on the morning of the opening match.
The team were not thought to have been the target of the hotel fire and nobody was hurt.
New Zealand Football CEO Andrew Pragnell said the players took shelter in a nearby restaurant before being given the all-clear to return to their hotel.
“We went down the fire exits. One was a bit smoky but the majority of us got down the other exit,” said Bott.
“We spent the rest of the evening in another location until the hotel was clear and everything was safe to go back.
“As a team we have no cause for concern. Things are back to normal for us.”
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