Hosts and PNG open with wins

Papua New Guinea raised the curtain on the tournament, the winner of which will qualify for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Azerbaijan 2012, with a hard-fought 1-0 win over 10-player New Caledonia while the Young Football Ferns triumphed 7-0 against Cook Islands to get off the mark in style.
Paul Temple’s charges wasted little time in stamping their authority on proceedings, going ahead in the 18th minute through Martine Puketapu and scoring three more before the break – courtesy of a header from captain Catherine Bott, an Emma Rolston penalty and a Hannah Carlsen chip – to take a 4-0 lead into the second spell.
The hosts then appeared to take their foot off the gas as Cook Islands enjoyed their best period of the game but it proved a temporary reprieve for the debutants and they conceded again in the 65th minute, Briar Palmer picking up a loose ball on the edge of the box and lofting it into the net. Palmer had her second of the afternoon just five minutes later and was joined in scoring a double by Carlsen in the 75th minute.
“I thought we showed some nice football out there, particularly in the first half,” coach Paul Temple said. “We talked about movement before the game and so it was nice to see some rotation. I thought our movement down the right hand side in particular in the first half was really good. The fullbacks getting forward and crossing always makes a difference.”
Bott was replaced at halftime by Megan Lee but the skipper’s participation in the rest of the tournament does not appear to be in doubt.
“CJ is just a bit sore,” Temple said. “It’s nice to have people like Megan to bring on and I thought she did really well.”
The Young Football Ferns performed strongly across the park but Temple was particularly pleased with the efforts in midfield of Carlsen, making her second appearance at this event, and Daisy Cleverley.
“I thought they were just terrific today, especially Daisy considering she’s just 14. I thought she ran the game for long periods so I was really pleased with her.”
The side expected to pose the most serious threat to New Zealand’s title defence, Papua New Guinea, also got off to a winning start at the expense of New Caledonia, who are joining Cook Islands in making their debut but will have to wait a little longer to pick up their first points.
The victors edged in front in the 18th minute when Georgina Kaikas – a constant menace to the New Caledonian defence – hit a low shot towards the bottom corner that goalkeeper Deborah Selefen could only palm into the net.
In a keenly-contested encounter, referee Robinson Banga had a busy afternoon and was forced to brandish a red card in the 53rd minute when New Caledonia captain Wakalane Ngaiohni lashed out at Papua New Guinea goalkeeper Biangka Gubag. Going down a player was hardly part of coach Kamalie Fitialata’s plans of a come-from-behind win and his side couldn’t find a way through as Papua New Guinea closed out the match in a fairly straightforward manner.
“I was really happy with the performance,” Papua New Guinea coach Frederica Apeh said. “It would have been good to score some more goals though so that is what we will be looking to do in the next game.”
The physical nature of the match resulted in players from both sides picking up knocks and Fitialata felt that didn’t make the task any easier for his team.
“We were well prepared but had to deal with some injuries,” he said. “A few of our players discovered the reality of international football which is that the games are faster and there are stronger impacts.”
The OFC U-17 Women’s Championship returns on Wednesday with New Caledonia meeting New Zealand at 1pm and Cook Islands facing Papua New Guinea at 3pm.
New Caledonia vs Papua New Guinea Match Summary: Download Here
New Zealand vs Cook Islands Match Summary: Download Here
Competition Summary: Download Here

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