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USWNT set to face 2023 World Cup host New Zealand in January

Sam Coffey takes a corner kick during the USWNT's October match against Spain at El Sadar Stadium in Pamplona. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

The U.S. women’s national team will visit 2023 World Cup host New Zealand for a pair of international friendlies in January, the team announced Wednesday night.

The USWNT will travel to New Zealand for a six-day training camp, then will play two games against the Football Ferns.

The first will kick off at 10 p.m. ET Tuesday, Jan. 17, at Sky Stadium in Wellington, and the second will kick off at 10 p.m. ET Friday, Jan. 20, at Eden Park in Auckland. These venues will play host to the USWNT’s three group-stage matches at the World Cup.

The first-ever matches in New Zealand for the USWNT will provide players and fans with a sneak peak of the atmosphere for the July tournament and of one potential opponent.

The 2019 World Cup champion United States will play in Group E against 2019 runner-up Netherlands, as well as Vietnam and an intercontinental playoff winner, while New Zealand will play in Group A against Norway, Switzerland and the Philippines.

Still, the USWNT and the Ferns could see each other in the knockout round.

β€œWe will get some quality training time together and have two tough matches against a great opponent that is hosting the World Cup,” USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski said in a statement. “We also get to experience the long travel and familiarize ourselves with the host cities, the stadiums, the training grounds and the culture, and hopefully we’ll play in front of some big crowds supporting the home team. It will be a great way to start the year.”

The USWNT holds theΒ No. 1 spot in the FIFA world rankings, even after back-to-back losses to England and Spain. The team will host No. 3 Germany next week in a pair of friendlies.

New Zealand is ranked No. 22 in the world, while World Cup co-host Australia is ranked No. 13.

The Ferns have a 1-1-17 all-time record against the USWNT, with their one win coming in 1987. The most recent meeting between the teams came in February at the SheBelieves Cup in California, a 5-0 win for the home team.