The Football Ferns are still waiting for their statement performance at a Women's World Cup – but it might not be too far away.

The 1-0 defeat to the Netherlands today was cruel, especially as the Dutch goal came in the 92nd minute.

It was a stinger, as the Ferns had defended admirably up until that point and created several scoring chances of their own.

It also denied the Ferns the kind of result that would have made the football world sit up and take notice.


A draw with the European champions would have put this team on the map, like their male counterparts achieved with their first two results at the 2010 World Cup.

It continues an unfortunate pattern for this Ferns generation.

They were close to beating hosts Canada at the last World Cup – only to miss a spot kick from 12 yards – and then were denied a breakthrough tournament win against China in their next match, thanks partly to an erroneous penalty awarded to the Asian nation.

That catalogue of what-if moments was added to this morning, in a match where the Ferns failed to take their chances and were also bereft of luck, with Olivia Chance rattling the cross bar early in the first half.

But momentum is surely building. If the Ferns can recover psychologically from this defeat, then there are positive signs for the next two matches.

Football Ferns players dejected after their World Cup opener against Netherlands. Photo / Getty
Football Ferns players dejected after their World Cup opener against Netherlands. Photo / Getty

Canada's combative, athletic style will suit the New Zealand side more than technical wizardry of the Netherlands and the Ferns have previously beaten Cameroon at a major tournament.

It means they could yet achieve their first victory at a World Cup, and Tom Sermanni's team will also still believe they can progress to the round of sixteen, though the likeliest route now is as one of the best ranked third placed teams.

After the match Sermanni conceded his players were "absolutely devastated", but was adamant they wouldn't be defined by the disappointment.


"The players adhered to the game plan magnificently and the courage, effort and discipline was first class," said Sermanni. "What we have to do is take those positives away from the game … not let the heartbreak of that late goal determine what we do going forward, but actually look at the 90 minutes as a whole. When will do that we come away with a lot more positives than negatives."

That list will start with the centre back pairing of Abby Erceg and Rebekah Stott, who cancelled out the threats of the much vaunted Netherland's front three. Ria Percival was solid in front of the back four, and CJ Bott did well to deal with the Lieke Martens, limiting the overall influence of the 'female Lionel Messi'.

The Ferns also had some solid moments in possession, and looked dangerous on the counter attack.

They'll rue their fortune with Chance's shot, and Sarah Gregorius should have done much better with a volley from six yards early in the second half. Any kind of decent contact would have buried the chance, but her mistimed shot ballooned up harmlessly.

Before the match the Dutch, who started with 10 of the 11 players that took the 2017 European Championships final, hadn't conceded for more than five hours of match play but they looked shaky at that point.

On such moments games can turn, but the Ferns continued to weather the storm, though they were inviting pressure as they sat deeper and deeper.

As the match ticked past 90 minutes substitute striker Hannah Wilkinson had the chance to win a rare corner for the Ferns, but was outwitted by the Dutch defender.

That would have used up precious time but instead the Europeans launched another wave of attack, and replacement Jill Roord nodded home, after a deep cross was headed back across goal.