Ferns talk tough after disappointing opener
Football Ferns captain Rebecca Smith insists they have not lost sight of their rather lofty goal - medal contention at the Olympics - despite the momentum killer at Millennium.
There was a rush of positivity emanating from the Ferns camp in the bowels of Cardiff's majestic Millenium Stadium yesterday, so much so one almost forgot the result was actually 1-0 to Britain, not to New Zealand.
Truth is it was a disappointing performance and a disappointing result for a team which had realistic designs on raining on Britain's parade in the first competitive act of the Olympics, and no amount of rhetoric could change that.
Maybe two years ago a gutsy 1-0 loss would have earned plaudits, but this team has greater expectations and so does the public. The fast-improving Ferns are at a stage, much like the All Whites reached two years ago, where results now define their success.
It's not all bad. Despite stumbling in the middle hour, when the hosts pressed high up the pitch and New Zealand couldn't handle the pressure, their start and finish to the match was encouraging.
They face Brazil, also in Cardiff, on Sunday (NZ time) and Cameroon in Coventry next Wednesday, and one win might yet be enough to qualify for the quarterfinals as one of the best third-placed teams.
Realistically, a win against world No 5 Brazil, 5-0 winners over Cameroon yesterday, is a pipedream. It will all come down to Coventry.
“We came here to win, and that's what we want to do,” Smith said.
“But we don't just want to win, we want to medal, every Olympian has that dream.
“Having lost three points in the opening game is obviously not something we were looking to do, and it's gutting, it's heart-wrenching losing in front of your friends and family who have come all this way, and in front of all our Kiwi fans back home.”
Smith said belief was still high and they would be going all out to topple Brazil rather than focus on Cameroon.
“We look to get a win in every game we play; we'll keep doing what we're doing well and fix the things that need fixing. The first 25 minutes [in yesterday's game], that's the team we want to continue to be.”
Both Smith and coach Tony Readings stressed the importance of keeping possession when under pressure.