Favourites New Zealand have begun their campaign at the OFC U-19 Women’s Championship in dominant fashion by going on the goal rampage against Papua New Guinea 12-0 in the tournament’s opening match at Ngahue Reserve in Auckland.
New Zealand coach Gareth Turnbull was pleased to get the result and some goals under the belt on the opening day.
“In all reality the first half performance was poor from the standards we demand of future Football Ferns,” he said.
“But credit to them, we spoke through some things pretty honestly at half-time and came out and executed what we asked them to do.
“So I’m really pleased with the execution of the second half, and pleased to get the tournament off with a win.”
Despite taking on the might of tournament favourites and defending champions New Zealand first up, Papua New Guinea started well, keeping an experienced New Zealand squad at bay for the first 15 minutes. Between the posts for Papua New Guinea was Faith Kasiray who did well to keep a flurry of shots from the likes of Samantha Tawharu, Hannah Blake and Jacqui Hand from the back of her net.
However on the stroke of the 16th minute New Zealand took the lead through Blake who followed up an attempt off a corner to open the scoring. Less than 15 minutes later and the Kiwis had their second as Tawharu put a neat finish past Kasiray.
Ramona Padio, a senior international for Papua New Guinea, was a crucial member of the squad, controlling from the centre especially when in possession, however she often struggled to connect with her teammates in order to really put pressure on their opponents.
Two quick-fire strike in additional time of the first half from Hand and Blake gave New Zealand a 4-0 lead going into the break. New Zealand wasted little time getting back into the swing of things in the second half as a goal to substitute Dayna Stevens was closely followed by one from Emma Main. The pair then added another one apiece with goals in the 64th and 66th minutes.
Stevens was the first to a hat-trick when she netted New Zealand’s ninth, before Blake took the side to 11 unanswered goals after scoring two consecutive goals as regulation time wound down. Tawharu’s brace came from the penalty spot in the fifth minute of additional time as New Zealand wrapped up a 12-0 victory.
Papua New Guinea coach Rachel Wadunah was impressed by the attitude of her side as they refused to give up despite the accumulating goal tally.
“They did the best they could, despite conceding goals,” she stated.
“New Zealand were very fast on the ball. There were times when they would play behind our defenders and we weren’t able to handle them.
“We just have to make sure we train on getting the ball to the side so we can stop them coming through the middle so we can close them down.”
The OFC U-19 Women’s Championship will pick up again on Friday 14 July with another three enticing encounters scheduled at Ngahue Reserve in Auckland.