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New Zealand make it a clean sweep

Tonga couldn’t prevent New Zealand from making it a clean sweep of the OFC U-19 Women’s Championship, with the six-time champions taking home a 9-0 victory to close out their successful campaign at Ngahue Reserve today.

Fiji secured their best ever placing at an OFC U-19 Women’s event after beating New Caledonia 2-1 to finish second behind the Kiwis, while Papua New Guinea drew 1-1 with Samoa in the day’s final encounter to ensure their place on the podium.

The competition wrapped up with Samoa taking on Papua New Guinea – who had already claimed their third place finish with Fiji’s victory over New Caledonia – in an inseparable 90 minute battle which ended with the two sides locked at 1-1.

Papua New Guinea dominated possession with their quick passing through the middle, but the Samoa backline managed to hold out the speedy Melanesians until the 41st minute, when Nicollete Ageva lived up to her reputation and found the back of net to edge her side ahead.

Samoa didn’t drop their heads however, netting an equaliser in the last play of the first half after being awarded a free kick. Samoa defender Hunter Malaki lined up the shot and fired a powerful attempt over the gloves of Amatha Mistera to earn her second goal of the competition.

Both teams returned to the field eager for a winner, but impressive defending from both backlines – and countless saves from Mistera and Jecky Toma – denied a second goal for either team.

After a dominant performance from her side, Papua New Guinea coach Rachel Wadunah was disappointed not to sink a well-deserved second goal but was pleased with the strength shown by her players against a talented and physical Samoa.

“The performance was good but the finishes were not there. They held the ball, they played good one-twos, and they were able to keep possession of the ball but they were not able to finish it off,” she said.

“Samoa were very strong on the ball and they were able to get the ball behind our backline but the girls were able to win it back. Samoa is a very good team. If they continue the way they are playing, they will be very competitive in the next round.”

Samoa coach Martin Tamasese was also disappointed not to claim three points but was impressed with the gutsy battle displayed by his young side.

“I’m happy with today’s game. We really wanted to win this last one but we are grateful with the end result,” he said.

“Papua New Guinea were attacking really hard but we structured our team very well to defend and we held them out well. Overall, the girls did really well and we understand what we need to work on for the next competition.”

Champions New Zealand picked up the Fairplay Award, going five matches without a single caution, and in the individual awards, an impressive display from Emma Main saw her skip past her teammates Samantha Tawharu and Hannah Blake to take home the Golden Boot award for her 11 goals in five games.

As well as taking home their silver medals, Fiji also scooped a couple of individual awards of their own.

Goalkeeper Ateca Tuwa took home the Golden Glove, while captain Luisa Tamanitoakula earned the Golden Ball for player of the tournament.

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