The Women’s World Cup 2023, dubbed “the greatest women’s world cup in history” will get underway tonight, with co-hosts Australia and New Zealand hosting clashes.

Taking place in the nine cities across Australia and New Zealand, the ninth edition of Women’s World Cup will, for the first time, host 32 teams – the most number of teams in competition history.

New Zealand will take on Norway in Auckland and at 8 pm AEST), Australia’s Matildas will battle the Republic of Ireland in front of 80,000 spectators at Stadium Australia.

Matildas captain Sam Kerr is confident the Matildas will have the home crowd behind them, and a weight of expectation on their shoulders.

Speaking to The Guardian on Wednesday, the Australian captain Kerr said the expectation was high but the team will “try to enjoy it”.

“I think back at Chelsea I’ve done that too, just enjoyed it. And that’s when I am my best me,” Kerr said.

“Everyone’s here to win, I’ ll keep my cards close to my chest, but we’re really confident. We’ve a lot of respect for Ireland … it’s about us tomorrow.”

The route to the trophy for the Matildas is not easy. Having drawn in the “group-of-death” consisting Canada, Nigeria and Ireland, they have to topple Denmark, France, Germany, and the United States if they are to proceed to the final.

The dominant US team (USWNT) which has won four out of eight previous tournaments, is again one of the favourites. It has its eye on making history by being the first team to win three tournaments in a row. It would be a record for men and women in World Cup competition.

Even though, most of the faces in USWNT team are new this time around due to injury, observers says it remains the team to beat. Speaking with The Ringer, the USWNT superstar striker Alex Morgan praised the young players, and said she is excited to produce a good memory together with them.

“The talent level is just unmatched. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced with my time on the team so many players in their teens and young 20s that have just been so dominant on the world stage,” she said.

Meanwhile, just hours ahead of the competition starting, Auckland witnessed a shooting where two people were killed. The 24-year-old gunman was also found dead after firing on police and six other people were wounded.

Addressing the nation, the New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkisns made it clear the World Cup would proceed as planned. He described the shooting as a “standalone incident” and there was no national security risk.

The competition will run for a month. The final is scheduled for August 20, and the winner will walk away with $10.5m ($6.21m for the players and $4.29m for the football federation.