They got time off work and spent thousands of dollars so they could cheer on their daughter during the Fifa U-17 Women's World Cup group games in Uruguay.

But when Macey Fraser's parents returned, and watched on TV as the team unexpectedly made the semi-finals, they realised it wasn't the same.

Pam and Gordon Fraser were home in Rangiora for three nights, but decided to book another pair of flights, which were "a little more expensive" on short notice, and jumped on the 14-hour flight to surprise the 16-year-old ahead of the semifinal.

Gordon Fraser and Pam Fraser with a tournament mascot, Capi. Photo / Supplied
Gordon Fraser and Pam Fraser with a tournament mascot, Capi. Photo / Supplied

The team have dominated headlines throughout the competition, creating history in taking a New Zealand age-group team to the last four - where no other team from the country has gone. Macey, who has been playing football since she was 4, is the youngest football star competing.

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Her parents have racked up 30,000km in air travel - with another 10,000 for their return - and thousands of dollars on the two trips but her mother told Herald on Sunday last night from Uruguay that the last-minute trip was "worth every cent".

Macey was "quite overwhelmed" to find out her parents had made a second trip to watch her.

"I don't think in a million years she thought we would fly back," Pam Fraser said. "We haven't calculated the total cost ... but every cent was worth the smile on Macey's face when she saw us.

"It is just a buzz to be watching our wee girl at a World Cup live."

New Zealand players embrace goalkeeper Anna Leat, after she scores the final penalty during a penalty shootout in the team's quarterfinal match against Japan. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)
New Zealand players embrace goalkeeper Anna Leat, after she scores the final penalty during a penalty shootout in the team's quarterfinal match against Japan. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)

Macey's older brothers Kane and Luke, unable to make either trip due to work commitments, would be on the couch this morning to cheer on their sister.

The Kiwis, coached by Leon Birnie, went down 2-0 to Spain in the first semifinal in Montevideo on Thursday. They will play Canada at 8am today, competing for bronze. Spain and Mexico will face off at 11am for the top spot.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared herself a fan of the team, sending a congratulatory message earlier in the competition.

It had been a rocky road during Macey's training - she tore a ligament playing for Waimakariri United at the Auckland City U17 tournament earlier in the year so needed to make a speedy recovery.