June 27, 2020 / 5:15 AM / 8 days ago

New Zealand keeper hoping Women's soccer World Cup means more home games

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Football Ferns goalkeeper Erin Nayler is hoping New Zealand winning the right to co-host the 2023 Women’s World Cup will mean a lot more home matches over the next couple of years.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Women's World Cup - Group E - New Zealand v Netherlands - Stade Oceane, Le Havre, France - June 11, 2019 New Zealand's Erin Nayler and Ali Riley in action with Netherlands' Lieke Martens REUTERS/Phil Noble

New Zealand’s isolation means Nayler can only recall playing “three or four” of her 71 internationals on home soil but she thinks top-tier teams will now make the long trip Down Under to prepare for the World Cup.

“The European teams have the budget,” Nayler told Reuters.

“As a team we always are asking for more home games, so hopefully that will happen and we can now start to build a really strong supporter base here.

“It’s usually quite difficult to get teams to travel down here and play in New Zealand. Now that the World Cup is going to be here I’m sure that we will get a lot more games.”

Soccer’s world governing body FIFA awarded the 2023 Women’s World Cup to a joint bid from Australia and New Zealand on Thursday, so both nations qualify for the tournament as hosts.

With no qualifying campaign, the Football Ferns will rely on friendlies for their preparation. New Zealand Football Chief Executive Andrew Pragnell said he would be looking to organise as many as possible.

“In an ideal scenario we would play every single (international) window,” he told Reuters. “Activity and preparation games are paramount now.”

Nayler said the plan for Wellington Phoenix to apply for a licence to enter a team in Australia’s W-League would also help improve the Football Ferns, who are ranked 23rd in the world.

“We’re a good side but what we’re lacking is time together,” she added. “I think that we will get a lot of overseas based players back here in New Zealand if that does happen.

“That will strengthen our team immensely.”

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by William Mallard

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