Football Ferns coach Tom Sermanni has spoken out about comments made by an American sportswriter about his team, saying they're "an easy target".
Sermanni and the Football Ferns were ripped into by Deadspin columnist Lauren Theisen yesterday, who labelled the team as "mediocre" and "the cockroaches of women's international soccer".
Despite the harsh words, Sermanni was more interested in a later comment made by Theisen, who effectively said New Zealand has a free pass to the World Cup.
"Quite a few teams get what could be considered a free pass into the World Cup," Sermanni told 1 NEWS.
"There are some very strong qualifications - one of the strong qualifications is Europe - but you look at Asia now with five spots and [the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football] with the spots that they have, other confederations can't say we get a free ride."
Theisen wrote in her column after going through hell in the last 12 months, the team is "back to being mediocre".
"By virtue of playing in limp-ass Oceania and therefore having the luxury to qualify for the biggest tournaments simply by beating up on the even tinier nations around them, New Zealand essentially get free admission to the World Cup every four years."
Sermanni argued though that today's performance against World No.8 Netherlands, which was only won by the Dutch thanks to a stoppage time goal, proves they're a force at the tournament - regardless of their qualification path.
"It certainly made people stand up and look and say [we're] a very competitive team.
"But I think if you look back at our build up to this World Cup, we've been a very competitive team and won some significant games.
"We're an easy target when it comes to saying we've got a free ride into the World Cup but we've only got one spot whereas every other confederation has several spots."