Football Ferns captain sheds tears of heartbreak and joy after rollercoaster week

Football Ferns captain Ali Riley has been on an emotional rollercoaster this week.

Football Ferns captain Ali Riley plays the ball against the USA. Source: Photosport

She first had to deal with the heartbreaking announcement her club in the US, the Orlando Pride, were forced to withdraw from the National Women's Soccer's upcoming competition due to 10 players and staff testing positive for Covid-19.

It's been confirmed six players and four staff made up the positive tests, although the tally could climb with Riley admitting she is still awaiting the results of her own test.

“Honestly, it’s been a terrible week,” Riley told Fairfax.

“It’s been heart-breaking and just so disappointing and frustrating."

But then in the blink of an eye, her outlook received a giant boost with confirmation New Zealand would be co-hosting the 2023 Women's FIFA World Cup alongside Australia.

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The tournament will be screened a global audience of over a billion people.

"I didn’t want to dare hope to get some good news," Riley said.

"That’s why I was so overwhelmed. I needed a win. I have Australian team-mates on the Pride team as well, so it was the best news we could have gotten.”

To prove how much the news meant to her, Riley unashamedly posted a selfie on social media shortly after Friday's announcement, showing her watery eyes and red checks brought on by crying after FIFA president Gianna Infantino confirmed the situation.

“The announcement came at a very emotional time and it also made me think back to two years ago when we were on the brink of disaster, and to be here today with a female president of our federation, who I trust so much, who has made a huge difference in this short time, I feel really confident that it’s going to be a huge success.”

Riley, a 134-cap veteran Football Fern, will be 35 when the tournament arrives in July 2023 and she says she'll do everything in her power to be there to help make history in what would be her fifth World Cup campaign.

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The combined New Zealand and Australian bid made history and sparked celebrations on both sides of the Tasman. Source: 1 NEWS

“There’s nothing more motivating. This is a chance for us. We’ve been disappointed with our results in the past World Cups and just touching on the change and the transformation we’ve gone through in the past couple of years, I think this is just going to be the most motivating thing."