Football: New Zealand 'fired up' for crucial World Cup warm-up clash against Argentina

If the Football Ferns are treating this month's friendlies as a 'mini World Cup', Monday's meeting with Argentina at Hamilton is effectively a must-win, if they want to progress to the knockout stages.

They'll face a similar reality in five months, when the FIFA Women's World Cup kicks off in New Zealand, as they aim to go a place they’ve never been before - the knockout stages.

With Friday's 5-0 hammering by Portugal still fresh in their minds, striker Hannah Wilkinson is adamant they'll be "100 percent better than that".

"It was an inexcusable performance," Wilkinson told Newshub. "It was really bad.

"We know we are so much better than that, and we're coming into this next game fired up and knowing what we can bring."

They'll need to be at their best, if they're to hold their own against the Argentines, who are fresh off a 4-0 drubbing of Chile at Auckland on Friday.

The 24th-ranked New Zealand are ranked seven places higher than the South Americans, who've already secured their spot at the World Cup, unlike Portugal, who are in the process of qualifying via the FIFA Playoff Tournament.

"The intention was always there and the effort at times, I think it was just the execution that was not good enough," Wilkinson added. "That's something we have to sharpen up ahead of the World Cup."

Another area demanding attention is their play up front. With just six goals in 15 games, the Football Ferns' goal-scoring issues remain a headline topic of discussion.

"Right now, sitting on a loss, we have to win," admitted Wilkinson. "We have no choice.

"That's the accountability and responsibility we have, and we're going in there knowing we have to get a result."

The Ferns will round out this month’s three fixtures with another clash against the Argentinians on Thursday at Auckland.