Novices take on the champions

In the quarter-finals of the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament, reigning champions USA go up against a New Zealand squad making history with a maiden appearance in the knockout phase of a FIFA tournament. With a mix of veterans and youngsters in the side, the Oceania champions can expect a very tough test against a solid, battle-hardened Stars and Stripes squad that finished runners-up at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011.

The match
USA-New Zealand, St. James’ Park, Newcastle, Friday 3 August, 14.30 (local time)

The stakes
The North Americans were emphatic winners of Group G after posting successive wins against France, Colombia and Korea DPR. And although they secured their passage with a game to spare, Pia Sundhage’s side did not let up in their final group game, making it three wins from three despite not being at their best.

For their part, the Football Ferns came through a very tough section – they lost their first two outings to Great Britain and Brazil – before downing Cameroon 3-1 to secure one of the two best-third place finishes on goal difference ahead of Korea DPR.

The stat
8 -
The number of successive games USA have now won at Women’s Olympic Football Tournaments. The sequence includes a 4-0 win over New Zealand during the group phase of Beijing 2008. The last team to beat the United States in this competition were Norway, who ran out 2-0 winners during that same group phase in China.  

The words
“The most satisfying thing about reaching the quarter-finals is that we totally deserved it over the three games. We came here to play six matches. In an Olympic tournament you should always aim to win a medal – the gold one. In order to do that, we have to improve with each game. Often at these tournaments, the team that wins doesn’t necessarily start the best, but rather gets better as the competition goes on. I feel that’s the case with us,” Tony Readings, New Zealand coach.

“Now it’s life or death. One defeat and you’re out. We came here for the gold medal, and that’s what we want to take home,” Abby Wambach, USA forward.