Women's World Cup co-host New Zealand tries to avoid elimination in match against Switzerland

Updated Jul. 29, 2023 3:35 a.m. ET

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand went from Women's World Cup darlings to the brink of elimination in a five-day span and its shot at advancing into the knockout round hinges on its Sunday match against Switzerland.

Switzerland sits comfortably atop Group A following a win over the Philippines and a draw against Norway, and anything but a loss to New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland would push La Nati through to the next round.

New Zealand's trek is far more perilous after the Football Ferns lost 1-0 to the Philippines, a tournament newcomer. It was a massive letdown for New Zealand, which opened the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Norway that captivated its nation.

New Zealand still has its supporters and stopped the team bus Saturday after leaving the airport to greet cheering fans. The Football Ferns had reason to celebrate as the team learned defender Michaela Foster, who missed New Zealand's first two games, is available against Switzerland.


New Zealand and the Philippines are tied for second in Group A headed into Sunday's games that determine which two teams advance. The Philippines play Norway at the same time New Zealand tries to advance to the knockout round for the first time in tournament history.

It's the fourth meeting between the nations, first since 2014, with New Zealand twice beating the Swiss in the Cyprus Women’s Cup.

Switzerland, which has a clean sheet so far in the tournament, is trying to reach the knockout round in its second tournament appearance.


There's both injury and drama in the Norway camp ahead of Sunday's must-win Group A match against the Philippines, a first-time Women's World Cup participant that has a shot at advancing into the knockout round.

Norway said on the eve of its match against the Philippines that star Ada Hegerberg would not play against the Philippines with a groin injury; the former Ballon d’Or winner also missed Norway's last match after walking off the field following warm-ups because she “felt discomfort when sprinting right after the anthems.”

It was Norway, the 12th-ranked team in the world, that was supposed to have an easier path out of group play. But the Grasshoppers lost to co-host New Zealand in the tournament's opening game and a draw with Switzerland has them sitting last in the group.

The frustration boiled over when winger Caroline Graham Hansen had an angry outburst for being dropped from the starting lineup against Switzerland.

“I feel I have been stepped on for a whole year — everyone says all the time that we have to stand together as a team and as a nation, but I feel I’ve been on the receiving end," Graham Hansen seethed. “Nothing comes for free in life, but I thought I had earned a certain amount of respect, but maybe that wasn’t the case."

Although the Barcelona player apologized for her comments the next day, it seems that many of her teammates are struggling with their belief that Graham Hansen was not wrong to be upset but should have handled it internally.

Hege Riise, the coach who took over the Norwegian team last August, has tried to put the matter to rest.

“We have worked through it and we will continue to talk together," Riise said. “We are always open and receptive to an apology. She has given that and she will give the same to the players. It is accepted."

Norway must beat the Philippines to have any chance to advance out of the group.

The Philippines, meanwhile, surprisingly are tied with New Zealand for second in the group following a shock 1-0 win over the Football Ferns. The victory gave the Philippines three points, but New Zealand holds the edge in the tiebreaker.

Even so, a victory over Norway for the 46th-ranked team in the world could give the edge to the Philippines depending on the results of New Zealand's game against Switzerland.

The two Group A matches are being played simultaneously.


Colombia star forward Linda Caicedo trained with her team the day before the showdown with Germany for top spot in Group H.

The 18-year-old cancer survivor dropped to the ground this week in a training session but appears to be fit for the match in Sydney. Caicedo scored in Colombia’s 2-0 win over South Korea in its opening game.

A win over Germany would guarantee Colombia a spot in the knockout round with a game to spare; a draw or loss would mean Group H won't be settled until the last day of group play on Aug. 3.

Germany, which thumped Morocco 6-0 in its opening match, would advance with a win over the Colombians.

“Colombia has a certain type of passion and they really bring that onto the pitch. I find that quite impressive,” German midfielder Lina Magull said Saturday though a translator. “It’s just part of how they are and how they play football. That is the difference from European football, where we are more focused on tactical issues, technical concentration. But football is not just one way of playing, and that’s the beauty of this game.”

Colombia has also gained a reputation at this World Cup for physical play: a tune-up match behind closed doors against Ireland before the start of the tournament was called off after 20 minutes when a player was hurt and the Irish complained it was getting out of hand.

Germany features Alexandra Popp, one of the best players in the world, and she scored twice in the win over Morocco. But the Germans will be without starting left back Felicitas Rauch, who injured her knee in training.

Germany has advanced to the knockout round at all eight previous editions of the World Cup, winning it twice.


South Korea and Morocco play Sunday in Adelaide, South Australia state, in a contest between the two last-place teams in Group H.

Both teams lost their opening matches of the tournament: South Korea was a 2-0 loser to Colombia, while Germany routed Morocco 6-0.

Morocco, one of eight teams making its debut in the tournament, was extremely overwhelmed by the Germans, and South Korea appears to be a bit more prepared. South Korea lost its game on defensive errors — two of which led to Colombia's goals. It was South Korea's fifth consecutive World Cup loss dating to the 2015 tournament.

Morocco has not only lost six consecutive games, but the Atlas Lionesses have been held scoreless in that span.


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