Rebecca Smith made no attempt to hide her deep disappointment in the wake of New Zealand's failed attempt to reach the quarter-finals at the FIFA Women's World Cup™. On Friday, the Football Ferns fell 2–1 to England in their second group game, and can now no longer reach the last eight after losing both matches so far.
“At the end of the day, I think experience made the difference. We had England under control for an hour, but they were under pressure to win, and they sent players forward from defensive midfield. We already knew England have a lot of extremely good players, and they stepped up and delivered the goods," the New Zealand captain reflected after a result which means the Kiwis pack for home at the end of the group stage. “I'm really proud of the girls," Smith told FIFA.com, “but unfortunately, it just wasn't enough today."
The Football Ferns arrived in Germany with their sights set high, but despite Friday's defeat, they will retain fond memories of the game, thanks to the wonderful support from the well-filled stands. “I hope it was a good match to watch and that the fans enjoyed it,” Smith said. "It was a very tense game to play in, and I'm sure it was exciting for the crowds up in the stands. The Dresden fans were magnificent and the atmosphere was fantastic. It was a cracking match."
The 30-year-old Smith, who plays her club football for Wolfsburg in the German Women's Bundesliga, senses a turning point. “Women's football in New Zealand has come on a very long way in the last four years. We're a totally different proposition compared to the 2007 Women's World Cup in China, and we're very proud of that."
New Zealand round off their programme against Mexico on Tuesday, when they are determined to bow out of the tournament with a good result. Smith is desperate to help her team finally collect their first point at a FIFA Women's World Cup. “We watched Mexico's draw with England, and then saw them lose 4–0 to Japan. It looks as though anything can happen at this World Cup. Every game is different from every other, so we're utterly determined to take all three points and make the nation proud."
Tuesday's clash will show whether Smith's wishes are granted, but regardless of the result, the Kiwis will go home with fond memories of Germany. “We're having a great time here," the defender stated.