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Debutants look to make mark

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A trio of Football Ferns made their FIFA Women’s World Cup debuts in the heart-breaking loss to the Netherlands and are now looking to continue making their mark.

New Zealand’s bid to create history in this year’s edition of the biggest female sporting event on the planet continues on Sunday morning (NZT) against Canada and the three debutants - namely CJ Bott, Olivia Chance and Paige Satchell - are all likely to feature again.

Before arriving in France, each of them had already worn the silver fern but were yet to take the field in a senior World Cup and say it was literally a dream come true to finally do so.

"It was pretty surreal, to play at the World Cup has always been a dream of mine," says Satchell, who entered the fray as a second-half substitute.

"To get on for the last 20 minute was an amazing experience and I just tried to give it everything I had and make an impact. I didn’t really have time to get nervous because it all happened so fast but I think that’s the best way to do it."

As a member of the starting line-up, Bott had more time for her emotions to potentially get the better of her but didn’t struggle to keep a lid on those nerves.

"I knew what I needed to do on the day and I’m not one to get too overwhelmed with everything that’s going on," she says.

"So I just went out there knowing I had a job to do but I was still incredibly grateful and honoured to be representing New Zealand at a World Cup."

Bott was handed a tough assignment in her first taste of this tournament as she was tasked with marking Barcelona star Lieke Martens, who was named FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year in 2017.

But the 24-year-old proved up to the challenge and played a prominent role in New Zealand’s resilient defensive display, which was finally broken by the Netherlands in crushing manner in stoppage time.

"It was so disappointing to let them in at the last minute like that," she admits.

"We had that draw so it’s really gutting but we’ll move forward. You have to acknowledge those emotions and deal with it on the night but the tournament is so tight and we don’t have time to dwell on that kind of thing. So you just have to take your learnings, deal with the emotions and then move on to the next day."

That involved relocating from Le Havre to Grenoble, where the Ferns are now preparing to take on Canada in an encounter they need to get something from to keep their hopes of progressing alive.

Satchell is embracing the high-pressure nature of the situation and believes the Ferns have enough quality to edge out Canada, who are ranked fifth in the world and defeated Cameroon in their opening match.

"Coming off such a great performance really gives us a lot of confidence moving into the next game and I think it will be similar to the Netherlands game," she says.

"We’re really going to have to push ourselves and play the game of our lives. We have to put everything on the line but I think we can produce something special."

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