New Zealand qualified for the FIFA Women’s World Cup – China 2007 with plenty to spare after thumping Papua New Guinea 7-0 at the Sir Ignatius Stadium in Lae this afternoon. Goals to Kirsty Yallop (2), Nicola Smith, Zoe Thompson, Ria Percival, Anna Green, and Hayley Moorwood were enough to give New Zealand a hat-trick of qualification for FIFA tournaments in 2007.
But the afternoon didn’t begin so brightly for the New Zealanders after they spurned a raft of goal scoring chances in the first 20 minutes with Zoe Thompson and Marlies Oostdam missing gilt-edged opportunities with only Roxanne Komeng to beat.
New Zealand fears were quickly allayed in a golden ten minute period for the Kiwis when Nicola Smith, Zoe Thompson, Ria Percival and Kirsty Yallop scored with stunning finishes in front of the 4,500 strong crowd. With the result all but decided within the first half hour, Papua New Guinea committed players forward into attack leaving their back three led by Cecilia Dobbin exposed to the marauding wide play of Ali Riley and Ria Percival. Riley and Percival have been integral in New Zealand’s campaign with the two wide midfielders extraordinary pace and accurate crosses leaving opposition defences in tatters.
The scoring continued in the 63rd minute when second-half substitute Anna Green netted a delightful left foot chip from the edge of the penalty area with Kirsty Yallop adding a sixth goal just two minutes later. Papua New Guinea battled gamely on, with their best chance of the match coming when substitute Samantha Peninsa crossed into the penalty area forcing New Zealand goalkeeper Jenny Bindon to punch the ball skyward only for PNG midfielder Julie Alau’s tame effort to be deflected wide for a corner.
Hayley Moorwood completed the rout in the 85th minute when she latched onto a long ball from Abby Erceg and sent an unstoppable shot beyond beleaguered Komeng for the seventh goal of the match. Upon the final whistle the New Zealand team poured onto the pitch to warm accolades from the home support and warm congratulations offered and extended by representatives of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tonga.
New Zealand coach John Herdman was understandably ecstatic with the result and paid tribute to his players and backroom staff for their efforts in sealing qualification for China – 2007.
“I was anxious in the first 20 minutes when we were missing so many chances but these girls are fantastic and tactically they were perfect, they showed that. The performance was beautiful to watch. We’ve got much tougher games to come now against the world’s best and we’ll have to come back to reality but this is a fantastic feeling,” Herdman said.
Herdman also paid tribute to the Papua New Guinea Football Association and the Papua New Guinea supporters for their support.
“The PNGFA and the Papua New Guinea supporters have been fantastic to us and it’s been a memorable week here.”
Papua New Guinea coach Marcos Gusmao was realistic in defeat.
“I am not really disappointed today because you saw the quality of the New Zealand team. I congratulate John and his players because they were the best team here. But Papua New Guinea can be proud because we have finished in our highest position in an OFC tournament,” Gusmao said.
In the day’s other match Tonga and Solomon Islands fought out a 0-0 draw.
Match Day 3
Papua New Guinea vs. New Zealand
Friday 13th April, 2007
At Sir Ignatius Stadium
Papua New Guinea
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Roxanne KOMENG, Kathryn SALAIAU, Cecilia DOBBIN, Judith MICHAEL, Jacqueline CHALAU (Julie ALAU 46), Tracey KIG (Regina SUI 46), Daisy WINAS (Samantha PENINSA 68), Deslyn SINIU, Miriam LANTA, Cathy AGUNAM, Lydia BARNABAS.
SUBSTITUTES: Watio BAKO, Molong KUSUNAN, Paulyn NORMAN, Samantha PENINSA, Ara MIDI, Antonia SURAKE, Marion Linda BUNAGA.
YELLOW CARDS: Jacqueline CHALAU, Cecilia DOBBIN.
RED CARDS: None.
NEW ZEALAND: Jenny BINDON, Rebecca SMITH, Abby ERCEG, Maia JACKMAN, Ali RILEY (Katie HOYLE 52), Ria PERCIVAL, Simone FERRARA (Hayley MOORWOOD 46), Marlies OOSTDAM (Anna GREEN 52), Kirsty YALLOP, Zoe THOMPSON, Nicola SMITH.
SUBSTITUTES: Stephanie PUKRIN, Hannah BROMLEY, Annalie LONGO, Emily McCOLL, Wendi HENDERSON, Emma KETE.
YELLOW CARDS: None.
RED CARDS: None.
GOALS: Nicola SMITH 20, Zoe THOMPSON 23, Ria PERCIVAL 26, Kirsty YALLOP 30, 65, Anna GREEN 63, Hayley MOORWOOD 85.
REFEREE: Amelia MORRIS (AUS)
ASSISTANT REFEREE 1: Jackson NAMO (SOL)
ASSISTANT REFEREE 2: Rohitesh DAYAL (FIJ)
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Lencie FRED (VAN)