The Young Football Ferns had plenty to celebrate this afternoon.
Photo: OFC via Phototek
That game now essentially becomes a final with a place at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Azerbaijan on offer.
New Zealand carried on their impressive goalscoring form with a 13-1 dismantling of New Caledonia while Papua New Guinea kept their hopes of reaching Azerbaijan alive thanks to a thrilling 3-2 win over Cook Islands.
The Young Football Ferns had shown just why they are favoured to retain their title this week with a 7-0 win against Cook Islands on the opening day and repeated the feat today, outclassing New Caledonia in every area of the park during an impressive display of sharp passing and intelligent movement.
Les Cagous were left to chase shadows for much of the match and that told in a remarkable finish that saw six goals scored in the closing stages. By that point the result was beyond doubt anyway but the Young Football Ferns were given a scare early on after Jasmine Pereira, who went on to score four, put them ahead in the opening minute. Against the run of play, New Caledonia broke forward in the 18th minute and found themselves on level terms when Noe Valefakaaga latched onto a lofted through ball from captain Cheyenne Dieuma and dispatched it past goalkeeper Lily Alfeld.
The New Caledonians celebrated the strike wildly but it proved to be a false down as Emma Rolston restored New Zealand’s advantage in the 28th minute and further goals from Pereira and Martine Puketapu had them 4-1 up at the interval. Les Cagous coach Kamalie Fitialata would have hoped to hold New Zealand to a respectable scoreline in the second period but his charges had no answer to the fluidity of the hosts’ attack and conceded a further nine unanswered goals.
Pereira added two more to complete her tally while Puketapu and Rolston finished with a hat-trick and double respectively. Daisy Cleverley, substitute Jessica Innes, Briar Palmer and Hannah Carlsen – captain for the day in place of the injured Catherine Bott - also got on the scoresheet to give coach Paul Temple a very pleasing day at the office.
“I thought there were some improvements from our first game,” Temple said. “We worked on our movement up front and I thought that was a lot better. We got in behind a lot and scored plenty of goals, although we missed a few too.”
New Caledonia boss Fitialata admitted his players were outclassed but was disappointed to see their heads drop as early as the first half.
“It was a very hard day but I didn’t think we deserved that,” he said. “We had a lot of injured players going into the game so it was not easy for us. The fourth goal was the point where the players gave up and stopped playing.”
There might not have been as many goals in the afternoon’s second clash but there was plenty of drama as Papua New Guinea kept themselves in the hunt for the title in thrilling fashion. Two goals from Ramona Lorenz, in the 21st and 28th minutes respectively, had them firmly in control but Cook Islands captain Tepaeru Toka got her side back into the contest in the 34th by looping a header over goalkeeper Esther Metlem.
Papua New Guinea restored their two-goal cushion early in the second half through Georgina Kaikas but had to endure a nervous finish after Toka scored her second with 20 minutes remaining. Despite piling on the pressure as the clocked ticked down, Cook Islands couldn’t force the equaliser and coach Angela Valamaka was left a frustrated figure.
“Obviously, the girls are really disappointed,” she said. “We played well but I think the wet conditions held us up a little bit and the physicality of Papua New Guinea was just too much.”
They will get the chance for some redemption on Friday when the OFC U-17 Women’s Championship wraps up with Cook Islands meeting New Caledonia at 1pm and Papua New Guinea facing New Zealand at 3pm.
A Papua New Guinea win in the second match would see them qualify for Azerbaijan while, due to their vastly superior goal difference, a draw would be enough for New Zealand to go through.
New Caledonia vs New Zealand Match Summary: Download Here
Cook Islands vs Papua New Guinea Match Summary: Download Here
Competition Summary: Download Here