The Football Ferns' bid to make history at the FIFA Women's World Cup begins on Wednesday morning (1am NZT) against the Netherlands and coach Tom Sermanni knows his players will need to perform at their absolute peak.

New Zealand have never progressed past the group stages and are also yet to win a match at a World Cup but are confident of achieving those milestones this time.

Sermanni's side have a tricky assignment, with the Netherlands (European champions), highly regarded Canada and Cameroon, who reached the round of 16 four years ago.

First up are the classy Dutch in Le Havre and Sermanni is fully aware of the size of the task.

"The Netherlands are a huge challenge and the reality is that every game is a challenge for New Zealand – you can't get away from that," said Sermanni.

"So we have to be at our very best and every player has to turn up on the day. We need to be ready to do the things we can do at the very best we can do them. "

Sermanni and the team have taken some confidence after an extensive build-up, highlighted by wins over Argentina, Norway and England. The Ferns also have vast experience, including five players who are entering their fourth senior World Cup.

"I think it makes a huge difference and especially for this particular World Cup," said Sermanni of the veteran quintet of captain Ali Riley, Ria Percival, Abby Erceg, Annalie Longo and Katie Duncan.

"This is a team that's been together for quite a significant period of time. For some of those players, this could be their last World Cup and it will certainly be the last World Cup for that unique group to be together," he adds.

"Hopefully, they feel that this is their time. It's their time to go out at this World Cup and really put down a marker and achieve things we haven't done before."

Skipper Riley echoes those thoughts.

"It feels a bit different this time – it definitely feels like it's our time," said Riley.

"We did our absolute best at the three previous World Cups but didn't finish the tournament with the feeling that we had achieved what we wanted to. That's driving us and the rest of the team can definitely feel it. No one's coming here just to enjoy the experience and be along for the ride, everyone is here to make something special happen."

"[The Netherlands are] European champions and have players who are very good individuals playing at top clubs. But we also faced that against England and the USA and have had learnings from all our preparation games."

"It's an opportunity for us to put together a more complete game. We've shown we can defend well but we also want to be attacking more and having a bit more control of the game. It's going to take a great performance to beat a team like the Netherlands but we're ready. We're hungry to get that win and show the world what we can do."

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