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Ferns’ path to glory laid out

Coach John Herdman and his side have been drawn with Japan, Mexico and England in Group B of the tournament, which will be held in Germany from June 26 to July 17.
They will open their campaign in Bochum on June 27 against group seeds Japan before facing England in Dresden on July 1 and wrapping up their pool play against Mexico in Sinsheim on July 5.
The draw took place in Frankfurt on Monday evening local time and saw the 16 competing nations placed in four groups that will decide the destination of the trophy.
Group A consists of hosts Germany, Canada, Nigeria and France while Group C is made up of USA, Korea DPR, Colombia and Sweden. Group D includes Brazil, Australia, Norway and Equatorial Guinea.
World No 2 Germany kick off the tournament against Canada on June 26.
Herdman believes his side have their work cut out for them but is happy with how the draw went.
“We’ve got a tough group but there are a couple of others that look extremely tough,” he says.
Japan and England will start as favourites to progress to the knockout stages but Herdman says draws against the Nadeshiko at the 2008 Olympic Games and England in last month’s Peace Queen Cup in South Korea will give the Ferns confidence.
“We’re not a team who fears anyone anymore but we definitely have respect for the tradition and pedigree of Japan and England,” he says.
“You don’t get to fifth in the world or to the final of the European Championship by chance so we know we have to be at our absolute best to get anything out of either of those matches.”
Mexico could be a dark horse after shocking the USA in CONCACAF qualifying but Herdman believes they are a team the Ferns must target.
“We think we can match up to them quite well and look to get a result in our last group game. Hopefully, we will go into that match with our qualification chances still alive.”
The top two teams in each of the four groups progress to the quarter-finals.
Over 120 nations took part in qualification for this edition of the tournament, making it the largest sporting event for women ever held.
It will be the Football Ferns’ third Women’s World Cup – they also took part in 1991 and 2007 – and they qualified by winning the OFC Women’s Nations Cup in Auckland during September and October. Herdman’s players put in plenty of effort in China four years ago but failed to take a point after losing their three group matches against Brazil, Denmark and China PR.
But Herdman’s squad have made plenty of progress in those four years and will be hoping for much better in Germany this time. They will also go into the tournament in confident mood after posting some impressive results in recent months.
No side came close to matching the Kiwis during the Oceania qualifying event as they hit 50 goals in their five matches and conceded none. They then performed well at the Peace Queen Cup – notching scoreless draws against Korea Republic and England – but suffered heartbreak when they missed out on a place in the final after the drawing of lots to break a three-way tie.
FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011
Group A
Germany, Canada, Nigeria, France
Group B
Japan, New Zealand, Mexico, England
Group C
USA, Korea DPR, Colombia, Sweden
Group D
Brazil, Australia, Norway, Equatorial Guinea
New Zealand schedule
June 27
New Zealand v Japan
July 1
New Zealand v England
July 5
New Zealand v Mexico

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