Co-hosts New Zealand won the opening game of the Women’s World Cup on Thursday with a 1-0 victory over Norway in Auckland in front of more than 42,000, the biggest crowd in New Zealand football history.
Striker Hannah Wilkinson scored the only goal early in the second half at Eden Park to give New Zealand’s women a maiden World Cup win at the 16th attempt. Ria Percival missed a late penalty for the home side.
Meanwhile, Veteran skipper Christine Sinclair warned on Thursday that Olympic champions Canada can beat anyone at the Women’s World Cup, saying: “This team is full of rock stars.”
Ranked seventh, they face a potentially tricky opening clash against Nigeria on Friday in Melbourne in a formidable Group B.
They will also meet co-hosts Australia and debutants Ireland in their bid to make the knockout rounds.
Sinclair, the all-time leading scorer in international football and at her sixth World Cup, warned against underestimating her side.
“We were overlooked heading into the Tokyo Olympics and showed what we can do,” said the 40-year-old forward, who has scored an incredible 190 goals in 323 appearances for her country.
“We can beat any team in the world. It’s contagious (winning), you want to do it again and it’s just motivated us to prove to the world what we can do again.”
Canada have qualified for every World Cup except the first in 1991, with a fourth-placed finish in 2003 the highlight so far. They were knocked out in the round of 16 in France four years ago.
They enter the tournament hosted by Australia and New Zealand after a disrupted build-up that saw them threaten to strike over pay, funding and contractual issues.