AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JANUARY 21: Ali Riley #7 of New Zealand looks to move past Ashley Hatch #7 of the United States during a game between New Zealand and USWNT at Eden Park on January 21, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

FIFA Womens World Cup 70 Day Countdown: Day 2 - New Zealand Snapshot

As we enter day two of Edge of the Crowd’s electrifying 70-day countdown to the highly anticipated 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, we’re diving headfirst into a whirlwind tour of the fierce and fabulous teams gracing this year’s tournament.

Join us on this journey as we dish out the inside scoop on each squad's strengths, weaknesses, players to keep an eye on and what a pass mark might be for each nation.

Take a look at our co-hosts across the Tasman, New Zealand.

FIFA Women's World Cup appearances: 5 (1991, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019)

Best Performance in a FIFA Women's World Cup: Group Stage (1991, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019)

Players to watch

The pressure's on the Football Ferns at the World Cup this year and Hannah Wilkinson's experience up front will be crucial if the co-hosts want to emerge from the group stage for the first time. With over 100 caps and 28 goals to her name, the 30-year-old is the lone goal scorer for the side in 2023, scoring the equaliser against Iceland. Wilkinson has been a solid starter for Melbourne City in the A-League Women, scoring six goals this season with a quality defensive work ethic making 12 clearances in her own half.

Captain Ali Riley will provide a stable influence in a backline that has blooded plenty of young talent in 2023.

Daisy Cleverley might not have played 50 matches for New Zealand but the 26-year-old has grown in leaps and bounds picking up crucial minutes in the midfield for the Danish side HB Køge. Whether head coach Jitka Klimková uses her as a starter, or as a late injection into the match, Cleverley could be a momentum changer for the co-hosts and provide a potential goal scorer from the midfield.

2023 form

It has been a tough opening to the World Cup year for the Football Ferns, without a win and just the Wilkinson goal in their draw against Iceland, there's been a lot of crucial lessons for the co-hosts heading into the World Cup.

On a positive note, New Zealand has gone down against powerhouse teams such as the United States and were caught in the crosshairs of Portugal in game seven of an eight-game winning streak.

In their most recent appearances, the Ferns have looked stronger avoiding getting smashed off the park during the April International window in Turkey, however, their lack of a reliable goal scorer other than Wilkinson continues to be problematic. The team's match against Vietnam 10 days out from the World Cup opener will be telling to see if New Zealand can break its streak of group stage finishes.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths: There's a lot to like about New Zealand's ability to pounce on the opportunities created from set pieces, with the Wilkinson goal created from a corner. The Ferns know how to find chances, it's only capitalising on them where they struggle.

Defender Michaela Foster's accuracy from throw-ins has also created chaos moments that the Ferns seem to thrive in, managing to get the ball into the box but is often outmatched by strong defensive units.

Klimková is bound to be focusing on how the Ferns can create better chances from set pieces at their training camp in May and with several weeks to work on developing that area of the game they could come into the FIFA Women's World Cup looking better than ever with an extended period together.

Weaknesses: Struggling to find reliable goal scorers aside, one of the Football Ferns' greatest weaknesses is that they seem to have forgotten how to find a way to win.

Winless in FIFA Women's World Cup appearances and last seeing a victory in September 2022, against Group A rivals the Philippines, New Zealand will need to gel in its training camp and make several key adjustments if the side hope to survive the pressures of a home World Cup.

Pass mark

Ordinarily, a first World Cup win would be considered the pass mark for New Zealand, however, with a home tournament and no travel across the Tasman, making it through to the Round of 16 should not be considered too high a bar for the Ferns.

Second only to Norway in appearances at the FIFA Women's World Cup, the Football Ferns squad has far more World Cup experience than the Philippines and Switzerland who are appearing at its debut and second FIFA Women's World Cups, respectively.

To get the full experience of Edge of the Crowd's 70 Day Countdown to the FIFA Women's World Cup this July, don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Also don't forget to listen to the Australian World Cup Podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.