AUCKLAND – Emma Kete’s first half goal earned the Football Ferns a promising 1-1 draw against world number nine Canada in the side’s final pre-Olympics warm-up match in Singapore overnight.
Thirteen months since losing a two-match series 0-8 on aggregate to the Canadians in Auckland, Kete cancelled out Christine Sinclair’s 28th minute opener with a coolly taken goal nine minutes before halftime to snap a run a four consecutive losses against the North Americans.
Set free on goal by Amber Hearn’s through ball, Kete outpaced the cover defence and placed the ball to the left of the advancing keeper.
New Zealand were unlucky not to already be on level terms through Katie Hoyle on the half hour mark, but the midfielder’s shot rebounded back off the inside of the post and across the face of goal.
Second half chances went begging including two in a ten minute spell of pressure immediately after half time, but the Ferns had to settle with claiming New Zealand’s first result against one of the current top ten sides since a 1993 goalless draw with the Canadians in New York.
In a sign of the team’s growing ambition heading into their first Olympic Games, coach John Herdman said his side were disappointed with another case of what-might-have-been following close losses to Australia and China (twice) in recent weeks.
“Sure, we’ve taken some positive steps but this team is talking about winning games now. Realistically, we’re going into the Olympics not talking about trying to scratch a point here or there but actually knocking over sides.”
“There’s real disappointment among the players. We’ve played four games against big teams and we could’ve had three wins. This side isn’t happy picking up a draw.
“A year ago if we’d picked up a point against a team like Canada we’d be jumping for joy. The girls will know deep down that they’ve done well tonight but it’s good to see them disappointed.”
Herdman did acknowledge that the result may cause Japan, Norway, and USA – all top 10 sides – to rethink their approach to respective Group G clashes against New Zealand.
“We wanted to send a message out before the Olympics. Teams will have seen us as easy beats in the group, but we’ve shown that’s not the case. Those teams will have to look at us differently.”
New Zealand leave Singapore for Qinhuangdao on Sunday to prepare for their Olympic opener against Japan on August 6, two days before the Olympic opening ceremony.
Football Ferns 1 (Emma Kete 36) Canada 1 (Christine Sinclair 28)
Queenstown Stadium, Singapore
Saturday 26 July
Football Ferns: Jenny Bindon (GK), Ria Percival, Abby Erceg, Rebecca Smith, Marlies Oostdam, Ali Riley, Katie Hoyle, Hayley Moorwood (Captain / Emily McColl 87), Kirsty Yallop (Renee Leota 80), Amber Hearn (Rebecca Tegg 72), Emma Kete.
Substitutes not used: Rachel Howard (GK), Anna Green, Kristy Hill, Merissa Smith.
Story Courtesy of NZF Media. For full story visit www.nzsoccer.com