New Zealand will go into the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™ facing a challenging task, pitted as they are in a tough group alongside England, Japan and Mexico. While the nation are still seeking their first win at this level, opponents would do well not to underestimate a side who have claimed some impressive results in recent years, most notably en route to the final of the 2010 Cyprus Cup.
Coach John Herdman has assembled a capable, albeit youthful squad, with a core of experience in the spine of the team. None more so than central midfielder and former captain Hayley Moorwood who is set to surpass Wendi Henderson’s national record of 64 caps prior to, or during, Germany 2011. Eight years after making her international debut, Moorwood is heading into her second FIFA Women’s World Cup seeking to help her side into the knockout stage for the first time.
The 27-year-old is currently enjoying life in the newly launched English Super League with Chelsea, residing in London where her fiancé, Rugby professional Daniel Bowden, also plies his trade. The match-up against England will have an extra dimension for Moorwood, with Chelsea team-mates Carly Telford, Danielle Buet and Claire Rafferty all hunting England selection.
Little more than a month out from their opener against Japan in Bochum, Moorwood tells FIFA.com about the team’s ambitions, preparations and expectations for Germany 2011.
FIFA.com: Four years on from a tough experience at China 2007, how capable is this team of making a mark?
Hayley Moorwood: The team that we have now is very different to that of four years ago. We perhaps have only about four or five players from the 2007 World Cup so it is quite a new and young team. In comparison we have quite a lot of new players who bring different qualities. We are, without a doubt, quite different to then and it’s great to see the progression.
Do you think then that inexperience could be a factor?
Even though we are a relatively young side, I think it is probably the most experienced team that New Zealand has had in a long time. We have a group of players that have a lot more caps than ever before and also a lot more international experience.
Even though we are a relatively young side, I think it is probably the most experienced team that New Zealand has had in a long time.
How is the squad’s preparations coming together building up to Germany 2011?
We have the majority of the team based in Auckland who train day-in, day-out with each other. We also have quite a few matches in preparation for our first game at the World Cup. We are working on some things and solidifying some areas so I think the team is coming along really well.
You had some erratic results in the last 12 months. Do you put that down to anything in particular?
We have achieved some pretty good results but we have also let some matches slip, so I think it comes down to the need to work on consistency as part of our overall development.
Is New Zealand's rapid development in the women’s game something you believe has been mirrored worldwide?
Women’s football has definitely grown on a global scale in the last five or ten years. The likes of USA can be beaten by a team like England, as happened recently. Teams are progressing well and there is no one dominant team which makes for quite a level playing field.
You have a tough challenge being drawn alongside England, Japan and Mexico, but you have achieved some good results against some of those opponents before, so how does the group suit New Zealand?
Firstly, it’s our minimum goal to progress beyond the group stage. The last game we played against Japan we drew 2-2, and the last game against England we drew 0-0, so I think we can do well in this group and we will do everything we can to achieve our goal.
On a personal level, how has your experience been with Chelsea in the newly launched English Super League?
The Super League has been great and very refreshing for me to be playing overseas and be in amongst England’s best footballers in front of some decent crowds. I’m really enjoying it and I think it is good for my game. I think it is a great league and has huge potential to do really well. The level is great and there is excellent competition week-in, week-out.