EDMONTON — New Zealand certainly didn’t look like a team that has never recorded a win in a Women’s World Cup as they gave Canada all they could handle in a 0-0 draw on Thursday.
There was plenty of fight in the Football Ferns as they kept their hopes of advancing through the group stage alive with the tie, coming on the heels of starting the tournament with a 1-0 loss to the Netherlands.
The 17-seeded New Zealand squad actually felt that they deserved much better than a single point after their performance against the No. 8 Canadians.
“At the final whistle we were really disappointed that we didn’t come away with the three points, we felt we did enough,” said New Zealand head coach Tony Readings, who served as an assistant coach to Canadian coach John Herdman before he left the Ferns to guide Canada in 2011. “We feel like we should have at least four points from our first two games and we have only come away with one.
“We are still happy with the way we played and we have one more game coming up and if we play like we did today we should have every chance of progressing into the next round.”
New Zealand, which had only one tie to show from four previous World Cup appearances, matched the Canadian team chance for chance and had several glorious opportunities to score, most notably on a penalty shot by Amber Hearn in the 33rd minute that went over Canadian ‘keeper Erin McLeod, only to see the ball ring off the crossbar.
“It’s disappointing when you have a great chance like that,” Readings said. “We are one of these teams that I feel one of these days is going to beat someone.”
On the other side of the field, New Zealand goalie Erin Nayler was named player of the match for her team, making several big stops, including a pair of massive saves on Canadian star striker Christine Sinclair.
“I thought it was an even match,” Nayler said. “We knew going into the game that it was going to be a fight and we fought really well. We were unlucky not to come away with the win.”
The New Zealand women will close out group round play when they face China (1-1) on Monday in Winnipeg.
“We know China so well, we have played them more than any other team,” Readings said. “We have beat them three of the last four times we have played them, but they beat us last time. It is always going to be tight when we play them.”
New Zealand had two players take yellow cards during the Canadian match — defender Ria Percival and forward Sarah Gregorious.
Shane Jones, The Canadian Press