Football Ferns fire back at 'cockroach' jibe

Less than 24 hours out from their World Cup opener, the Football Ferns have been given extra incentive to beat the Netherlands.

An article from US sports blogger Lauren Theisen describing the Ferns as the "cockroaches" of women's international soccer has provided an added boost of motivation.

"New Zealand are the cockroaches of women's international soccer – they're always around," Theisen wrote.

"By virtue of playing in limp-ass Oceania and therefore having the luxury to qualify for the biggest tournaments simply by beating up on the even tinier nations around them, New Zealand essentially get free admission to the World Cup every four years.

"And if they're lucky and don't blow it against Cameroon, they might actually win a game this time around."

It certainly didn’t sit well with former captain Maia Jackman.

"It was pretty scathing on the girls," Jackman told Newshub. "And something that's pretty unwarranted actually."

But Jackman's putting a positive spin on it, and thinks the team will too.

"If I'm going to take anything from it, the girls will be cockroaches and be annoying and get in the faces of other teams."

They'll need plenty of that against the reigning European champions...

"We don't expect to dominate possession," said defender Abby Erceg. "We don't expect to dominate the game. We do expect to get chances in the game, and that's really important for us that we take them."

They've proven they can.

They beat world number three England nine days ago with only 35 percent of the ball, and the way they stood up against former coach Andreas Heraf shows the resilience of the group.

"We are able to turn what happened to us into a positive," said captain Ali Riley. "In terms of, being faced with potentially walking away from this team, from this career, to feeling very, very grateful that we are able to fight and get to where we are today.

The experience has galvanised the team.

And that's what's impressed the new coach Tom Sermanni, who's getting ready for his fourth World Cup with a third different country.

Some of those teams had particular players that were game breakers," said Sermanni of his former sides. "I think for New Zealand it's very much a collective effort."

Channelling criticism could be the key, and they'll go down in history if they can.

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