The Women’s soccer World Cup has started in Australia and New Zealand and will continue until August 20. The teams from the host countries won their first games on Thursday.
New Zealand defeated Norway, 1-0. It was the first-ever win in the tournament for New Zealand.
Australia is playing without Sam Kerr, one of the world’s best players, but it still defeated Ireland, 1-0.
Norway had been one of the top teams in the world when women’s soccer was young, winning the 1995 World Cup. However, the team has not been as good recently, losing early in both the 2019 tournament and at the 2022 European Cup.
Katie Bowen is a member of the New Zealand team. Seeing her team ahead when the game ended was “absolutely surreal,” she said.
Players from New Zealand and Norway said they were not distracted by a shooting in Auckland earlier in the day. A man with a gun went into a construction site near the hotel where Norway was staying. He killed two people and later died after a shootout with New Zealand police.
Extra police watched over the opening game at Eden Park stadium. Over 40,000 people were there, including New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins. He thanked the team for starting the tournament with an “inspirational” performance.
For Australia, Steph Catley scored a goal on a penalty kick early in the second half and that was enough to win. Australian fans had been concerned about the news that Kerr would miss the tournament’s first two games with a leg injury.
Over 75,000 fans watched the match in a stadium built for the 2000 Olympics. Australia had trouble scoring without Kerr, who plays in the women’s professional league in England for Chelsea.
New Zealand’s next game is on July 25 against the Philippines and Australia plays Nigeria on July 27.
The defending champion United States plays Vietnam in its first match on July 22.
The tournament is larger than in past years, with 32 teams. Many countries are in the tournament for the first time. They include Ireland, Vietnam, Zambia and Haiti. Other first-time competitors are Morocco, Panama, Portugal and the Philippines.
The Americans are looking for their third-straight win, but other top teams include France, Japan, Germany, Canada and Brazil.
Canada’s coach is Bev Priestman. She said more countries are putting money into developing their teams and players. She said some teams could lose in the tournament’s first games, known as the group stage, but then do well at the next level, called the knockout round. “It’s tighter than it’s ever been,” she said.
Soccer experts pointed to a recent 3-2 win by Africa’s Zambia over Germany.
“The world is catching up,” said American coach Vlatko Andonovski.
I’m Caty Weaver.
Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English based on reports by the Associated Press.
Words in This Story
host –n. a country that holds an international event
absolutely –adv. completely
surreal –adj. very strange or dreamlike
distracted –adj. unable to pay attention
inspirational –adj. causing people to want to do something or to feel like they can do more
penalty kick –n. a chance to score a goal given to a team when a member of the opposing team breaks the rules
tournament –n. a large competition involving many teams over that takes place of days or weeks
knockout round –n. a part of a competition in which a team is out after a loss
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