The biggest showcase in women’s sport begins on Thursday, when the 2023 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Auckland.
New Zealand take on Norway in the first of 64 matches played over 32 days across 10 venues, with the Matildas’ first match kicking off at Sydney Olympic Park on Thursday 20 July at 8pm.
Ahead of one of the world’s biggest sporting tournaments descending on Australia and New Zealand, here’s what you need to know.
The Matildas are all set to begin their home World Cup campaign in Sydney on July 20
20 July – Opening match between New Zealand and Norway (Auckland)
July 20 – Australia vs Ireland (Sydney)
July 27 – Australia vs Nigeria (Brisbane)
July 31 – Australia vs Canada (Melbourne)
20 August – World Cup Final (Sydney)
This is the first co-host Women’s World Cup, with Australia and New Zealand each hosting one side of the draw.
The opening match between New Zealand and Norway will be played at Eden Park in Auckland.
The host cities in Australia are Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, while in New Zealand it will be Auckland, Dunedin, Hamilton and Wellington hosting the games.
The final will be played at Sydney Stadium with a semi-final in Australia. Eden Park will host the other semi-final and Brisbane will stage the third-place play-off.
The competition was expanded from 24 teams to 32, who were drawn into eight groups of four.
Group winners and runners-up advance to the Round of 16.
Who is going to win?
USA superstars Megan Rapinoe (left) and Alex Morgan (right) celebrate after winning the 2019 World Cup final
Defending champions USA are always in the mix and looking to win an unprecedented third straight title but they have been decimated by injuries.
European champions England and Olympic finalists Sweden are also among the favourites, while two-time winners Germany have been in real hot form since reaching the Euro final.
A coaching change could be the next step for a consistently underachieving France team.
Spain and Canada will try to overcome off-field dramas to fight back, while Japan should never be shut down.
What about Australia?
Matildas fans are hoping the team can go further than ever in the World Cup
The Matildas reached the last eight in 2007, 2011 and 2015, winning their first knockout match at the Senior World Cup in 2015. They were knocked out in the round of 16 in 2019.
Excellent recent results against England, Sweden, Spain and France have put the Matildas in real contention as they look to take heart from their excellent Olympic run.
Playing Olympic champions Canada in the group stage is tough, and the path to the knockout stages could be easier if Australia can hold on to top spot and avoid an R16 clash with potential Group D winners England.
Did they win?
The players will earn a record purse of $US270,000 ($A404,000) each for winning the title.
Each player participating in the tournament is guaranteed at least $30,000 ($A45,000), while the average salary in the women’s game worldwide is $14,000 ($21,000).
What is the mascot for the tournament?
Tajuni, pictured with USA star Megan Rapinoe, is the official mascot of the 2023 Women’s World Cup
Tajuni is a ‘fun, soccer-loving penguin’ who fell in love with soccer while playing with some kids on the beach, according to FIFA. The penguin is based on the Eudyptula minor species native to New Zealand and Australia. The name Tajuni is a combination of its home – the Tasman Sea – and ‘unity’, which is described as a core value of the event.