The New Zealand side, who won the OFC U-17 Championship at the start of the year undefeated without conceding a goal, went to China without knowing how good they were compared to opponents they expect to meet at the World Cup.
They were beaten 6-0, 3-1 and 5-1 by China, Canada and Japan respectively and Turnbull said those results would play a huge part in shaping their preparation for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan. He said the whole tour was immense for the team as a group of players and staff.
“Being humbled has grounded us as a group and made us very aware of our current short comings,” said Turnbull.
“Without these experiences, we would have turned up to Jordan to play Mexico without truly knowing the level we require to be at in order to get a result against a top nation, which is our objective when competing at the World Cup.”
Turnbull said the players now have a feel of what international standards are and the team has discussed areas of how they can replicate these standards in their own environments the best they can.
“Collectively we all need to raise our own standards and demand more of ourselves over the final few months as we prepare for Jordan,” he said. “We believe we do have what it takes to win games if we execute for a full 90 minutes.”
Even more importantly, with the long term in mind, the players and staff have gained valuable insight which will help the development of these players into future Football Ferns.
Turnbull said the way the team rallied for their final game of the tour against their toughest opposition the defending FIFA U-17 World Cup Champions Japan showed their ability to learn quickly.
“It was really pleasing to see progression in many areas which led to our most competitive performance against what we deemed the best team at this tournament,” he said.
“The girls demonstrated real intensity about their pressing and defensive duties, whilst continuing to be a threat in our attacking transition which against these world-class teams have proven to be our main potential source of goals.”
After an even first quarter of the match where both goal keepers have been brought into making one good save a piece, the Japanese forwards were able to combine in clinical fashion on the edge of the box to get a clean strike away which beat goal keeper Nadia Olla for the only goal of the half.
The New Zealand side were rocked by a double strike in the first few minutes of the second half before the best moment of the match for the OFC champions. Jacqui Hand used her main attribute to full effect in the 60th minute when she dribbled past three defenders and went around the goal-keeper for a memorable goal. New Zealand pressed forward for another goal and were caught on the counter on two occasions late in the game for a final 5-1 score line.
Turnbull singled out Nicole Mettam as their best of their final match as she “embodied what it takes from a physical, mental, technical and tactical perspective to play top level international football”.
New Zealand got plenty out of their tour to China and believe they will be better for the experience when they take on hosts Jordan, Spain and Mexico at the FIFA U-17 World Cup. The tour of China was played in the same format as the FIFA World Cup with three games played in eight days.
“There were lots of positives from this tour,” said Turnbull. “The girls know the standard required now to compete with the world’s best U-17 teams. We did well for periods of time but we were not consistent enough for long periods to push for results. That is our challenge in the next two months.”
NZ U-17 v Japan U-17
Full time NZ 1 Japan 5. Japan goals 26 min, 47, 49, 78, 91. NZ goal scored by Jacqui Hand at 60 mins. Half-time 0-1
NZ U-17 team: Nadia Olla (Anna Leat 45’), Francesca Grange (Lily Bray 69’), Rebecca Lake (Amber Phillips 45’), Ally Toailoa (Alosi Bloomfield 82’), Claudia Bunge, Nicole Mettam, Malia Steinmetz (Michalea Foster 69’), Grace Jale (Gabe Jillings 76’), Hannah Blake, Sam Tawharu (Emma Main (69’), Jacqui Hand
FIFA U-17 World Cup Fact Box
When: 30 September – 21 October
What: NZ will face Jordan, Spain and Mexico in their group matches
Story courtesy of New Zealand Football