Football Ferns head coach Jitka Klimková says her players want to be remembered as a ‘gritty’ team that were physical and hard to play against at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
In a briefing for media in the lead-up to Thursday’s tournament opener against Norway, Klimková said:
‘The Ferns were really always tough opposition for everybody in the past.
“I remember when I was watching the Ferns, it was like ‘wow, this is a team that is really hard to play against.’
“I have to say that in this transition period, during those two years we’ve been together, some games were missing the grit.
“So, when we were talking about how we want to be remembered as a team after this World Cup, everybody said, ‘we want to be gritty. We want to be the team that’s always been very physical and hard to play against.’
“I think this is the goal we are building towards, that we want to be a physical team that will be tough to play against.”
Main photo: Coach Jitka Klimková … ‘I just can’t wait.’ Photo credit: NZ Football.
Klimková said the team displayed that approach in last Friday’s warm-up game against Italy.
“Against Italy, that’s exactly how I saw the way we defended,” she said, saying the team had defended well against a European team that played fast, one-touch football.
New Zealand lost the behind-closed-doors game 1-0 at Keith Hay Park, but Klimková said the team had started well, and then in the last 20 minutes of the game, had shown they could finish strongly, creating chances.
Of her team’s desire to be ‘gritty’ and hard to play against, Klimková said:
“This is something we can control. We will be united, and each player will have a mindset of ‘I’m not going to give up anything on the field’. That’s what we can control, and we can be much more successful.”
The Ferns coach said he got goosebumps just thinking about the fast-approaching World Cup tournament.
“Our goal is to inspire the nation, and I am just very lucky to be part of it, and thankful for this amazing opportunity to be part of a home team that is going to perform in front of 50,000 people.
“I just can’t wait.”