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Olympics hold special place for Hearn

Furthermore, she is New Zealand’s all-time top scorer at international level.
In 2004 Hearn made her debut for the Football Ferns and had her first taste of the Olympics at Beijing 2008.
“The World Cup is probably a higher priority football-wise, but the Olympics is definitely something you want on your CV,” Hearn said.
“You’re in a whole different culture, around a lot of other athletes.
“It’s kind of overwhelming, you go to the Olympic Village and see all the different nationalities, athletes, different shapes and sizes.
“The Olympics is something that you have to appreciate, you have to experience it. I’ve done it twice already and it still takes my breath away.”
New Zealand were knocked out of the group stage at the 2008 tournament, but reached the quarter-finals four years later in London, where they lost to eventual champions USA.
Hearn and Co face a testing challenge to equal that feat this year, after being drawn alongside France, Colombia and defending title-holders USA in Group F.
“The first thing that came to my mind when I saw our group was: ‘this is definitely the toughest one’,” Hearn said.
“We have tough opponents and we’ve experienced playing against all three sides.
“The US have a great team and are obviously ranked number one in the world.
“They have class players. It’s the same with France and Colombia and it’s up to us to step up to the challenge and make our mark.”
There are still approximately three months to go before the group stage kicks off, but preparing for the competition is no easy task for the New Zealand camp.
“The sacrifices we all make for our team is a credit to the girls,” the 31-year-old said.
“We don’t really get much time to prepare for matches.
“What most people don’t realise is that everybody is pretty much based overseas beacuse the majority of players are based around the world and the rest are in New Zealand.
“It’s so much harder for us than for Germany, for example. They’re based in Europe and it’s like an hour’s flight to get to the camp.
“To get to New Zealand you travel halfway across the world.”
Nevertheless, Hearn is satisfied despite such difficulties.
New Zealand reached the play-off for third place at the Algarve Cup, where they lost to Iceland on penalties, and recently suffered a friendly defeat against the Netherlands.
“The preparation is good, the results not so good,” the two-time Oceania champion said.
“We’ve done well in some parts but lacked in others.
“Defensively we’re a solid team,” she continued.
“On a personal level I think we need to be a lot more clinical and attack-minded.
“That’s where games are won. What we need to focus more on is winning consistently and finishing matches earlier, rather than chasing the game or scraping through with a draw.”
It is common knowledge in football that goals win games and scoring is not a problem for the lively striker.
Hearn became New Zealand’s all-time top scorer when she hit the 50-mark, and she is also one of her country’s most experienced players with over 100 caps to her name.
“Statistically speaking, the more experience you have in a team, the more games you win,” Hearn said.
“In football you gain so much experience the more you play.
“The game evolves so much every day. You have young players, different talents. Football has progressed dramatically over the years. There are so many talented players out there.”
And while the potent Jena forward is happy with her achievements to date, she still has another ambition to fulfil.
“Retirement!” she said, with a hearty laugh. “I’m kidding. Everyone dreams of playing in the big tournaments and obviously at the World Cup. My dream is to bring home a medal. For me personally? I’ve achieved what I wanted to – I think…” she said.
Story courtesy of FIFA. For more on the world game visit www.fifa.com


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