Former Football Ferns captain Maia Jackman has hit back at a US sports blogger who labelled the Kiwi side the "cockroaches of women's international soccer".
Lauren Theisen made the call ahead of the team's World Cup opener against the Netherlands in France on Wednesday morning (NZT).
"By virtue of playing in limp-arse 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," Theisen wrote.
"And if they're lucky and don't blow it against Cameroon, they might actually win a game this time around."
Jackman told Newshub she found the attack "scathing" and "unwarranted", but is encouraging the team to use it as extra motivation for their World Cup opener against the highly fancied Dutch side.
"If I'm going to take anything from it, the girls will be cockroaches and be annoying and get in the faces of other teams," she told Newshub.
The Football Ferns beat world No 3 England in a friendly earlier in the month, although this week were rocked by the loss of first-choice centre back Meikayla Moore, who ruptured her Achilles tendon while training in Le Havre.
Christchurch-born Moore took to social media to say she is "devastated and heartbroken" after being ruled out of her second World Cup.
Also in New Zealand's group are world No 5 Canada and world No 46 Cameroon.