FIFA rated the Australia-New Zealand bid as 4.1 out of 5 compared to 2.8 out of 5 for Colombia, so it was quite a surprise to see the voting was even that close.
The fact that Australasia will host the 2023 Women’s World Cup will be a huge boost for the region and it is the first time they will host a major global sporting event since the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Several youth World Cup tournaments have been held in both countries but this will be the first major FIFA tournament to be held in either country as the nations have bid before to host both the men’s and women’s World Cup.
This tournament will be the first time that 32 teams will compete at the Women’s World Cup and it is exciting to think where the women’s game will be at in less than three years’ time when this tournament kicks off.
Games will take place in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Newcastle and Launceston in Australia, while Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin will host games in New Zealand.
The group stage is complete and the knockouts have begun, with Italy and Colombia the first two teams to advance past the Round of 16.
In the early game of the day, 20-year-old Andrea Pinamonti was the lone goalscorer as Italy topped hosts Poland 1-0 on a 38th minute penalty. Pinamonti, an Inter youth product who spent last season on loan as a regular at relegated Frosinone, delivered a Panenka penalty after Dominic Steczyk handled the ball in the box.
Poland’s best chance to equalize came just after halftime as Marcel Zylla broke away from the Italy defense and was one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but Italian shot-stopper Alessandro Plizzari just got his foot to the shot. Otherwise, the two sides split possession and shots relatively evenly, but the Italians move on still on the hunt to match or beat their third-place finish from two years ago.
In the later matchup, Colombia and New Zealand required extra time after a 1-1 draw, and the South American side went through by way of a thrilling penalty shootout that finished 5-4 after seven takers. Colombia got an early strike 11 minutes in from 19-year-old Nacional youth product Andres Reyes who got in front of net to graze his head to a fabulous Juan Hernandez free-kick delivery that New Zealand goalkeeper Michael Woud probably should have claimed.
The All Whites leveled things up in the 35th minute as Elijah Just, a 19-year-old heading to play in the Norwegian second tier next season, got to the end of a low Liberato Cacace ball into the box. Colombia remained on top throughout the second half and had numerous chances down the stretch of regulation but couldn’t find the back of the net. After the end of extra time, a thrilling penalty shootout that featured five saves, a miss, and a retaken penalty.
All told, in the seventh round of spot-kicks, Colombian goalkeeper Kevin Mier saved Matthew Conroy’s effort and Colombia took hold of the shootout, sending New Zealand home.
Colombia advances to take on the winner of Ukraine and Panama, while Italy has a tough task ahead, matching up with the winner of Argentina and Mali.
On a day where the United States’ biggest name scored a decisive goal and Honduras conceded all but three of 12 goals to a lone Norwegian, the U-20 World Cup in Poland still managed two other entertaining contests.
Danylo Sikan’s early goal looked set to give Ukraine a perfect nine-point group stage, but Muhamed Tijani’s 51st minute penalty gave the Super Eagles a share of the points.
Ukraine wins Group D and will avoid mighty France in the Round of 16, while Nigeria will finish third in the group and could face Senegal or Italy next.
New Zealand 0-2 Uruguay
Darwin Nunes scored a point-blank goal before halftime and Brian Rodriguez ensured the result deep in stoppage time as Uruguay won Group C by topping the previously-perfect Kiwis.
Uruguay will meet the third place team from Group A, B, or F. The winner of that match would be the United States’ quarterfinal opponent should the Americans knock off France or Mali in the Round of 16.
FIFA have approved Tyler Boyd’s one-time switch from New Zealand to the U.S. national team.
In a move which has surprised many, Boyd’s attacking prowess on the right wing will give USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter a solid option for this summer and beyond as he now cannot switch his allegiance back.
Boyd, 24, is a dual national of both New Zealand and the USA and has enjoyed an incredible run in the Turkish top-flight in recent months.
He is on loan at Turkish Super Lig club Ankaragucu from Portuguese side Vitoria de Guimaraes, and has scored five times and added four assists in 13 games this season.
Boyd was born in New Zealand but grew up in California before heading back to his homeland at the age of 10.
He has previously played for the New Zealand youth national teams in official competitions, hence why the change of association needed to be verified by FIFA. Boyd has also made six friendly appearances for the All Whites.
What is Boyd all about?
Well, the video below gives you a good idea, as Boyd can cut in from the flank to score and assist and has plenty of power and pace to his game. This is something which should compliment the USMNT attack well, with Christian Pulisic’s trickery supporting the likes of Gyasi Zardes and Jozy Altidore up top.
Boyd’s switch is an exciting development for the USMNT ahead of the 2019 Gold Cup this summer.
“Atta was a great man and well-liked by everyone in the Futsal Whites squad and the futsal community,” said Margetts. “There are no words to sum up how we are all feeling. There is huge hole in our hearts as we come to terms with the loss of a great person and a good mate. He will be sorely missed. To Atta’s family, we are deeply sorry for your loss. We can’t imagine what you are going through, but please know we love you and we are here for you during this incredibly difficult time.”
Teams around New Zealand paid tribute to Elayyan and the dozens of other victims, according to the BBC.