Football: How NZ reacted to learning 2023 Women's World Cup was heading downunder

Football Ferns trio Hannah Wilkinson, Erin Nayler and Annalie Longo jumped for joy, when FIFA president Gianni Infantino announced New Zealand and Australia would co-host the 2023 Women's Football World Cup. 

Just before 4am Friday (NZ time), Infantino announced the trans-Tasman bid had edged out Colombia to host the biggest edition of the tournament in history. 

Tension was high, as striker Wilkinson, goalkeeper Nayler and midfielder Longo all sat around a laptop waiting for the decision, but there was nothing but joy when it was announced the biggest stars will be heading downunder. 

The three players celebrated with a glass of champagne, while a flurry of messages came through on their phones. 

"I am in total disbelief," Wilkinson has told Newshub. "I can' t believe it. 

"The World Cup is coming here, that's massive. I'm probably going to cry later."  

The joint bid from Australia and New Zealand received 22 votes, while Colombia received 13. 

Erin Nayler, Annalie Longo and Hannah Wilkinson.
Erin Nayler, Annalie Longo and Hannah Wilkinson. Photo credit: Photosport

"I didn't sleep at all," Nayler has told Newshub. "I was nervous thinking about the bid, but it was worth it. 

"I could never imagine a World Cup on home soil - bring on the next three years."  

Longo echoes her teammates' thoughts. 

"Really happy and stoked," she has told Newshub. "To hear the announcement that the World Cup coming here was special."  

Football Ferns captain Ali Riley, who is currently based in the US, has tweeted she "will never forget this moment", along with a photo of herself crying with happiness. 

The 2023 tournament will be the first Women's World Cup to feature 32 teams, up from 24 at the 2019 tournament, and is expected to be staged from July to August, with the opener likely to be held at Auckland's Eden Park. 

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