New Zealand produced the fast start they desired but not the finish despite thumping Tonga 7-0 to comfortably top Group A, while neighbours Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands drew 1-1 at the 2006 OFC U-20 Women’s Championship in Samoa.
Tonga were content on a damage limitation job at the Toleafoa JS Blatter Football Fields, defending with 10 players behind the ball after being humbled 16-0 by New Zealand in March 12 dress-rehearsal to the World Cup qualifies in Apia.
The derby between near neighbours Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands ended with honours shared. Layda Samani opened the scoring after 18 minutes outpacing the Vanuatu defence before calmly rounding the ‘keeper and rolling the ball into the empty net. Vanuatu responded on the stroke of half-time in similar fashion through Leisoko Masauvakalo.
The Solomons had chances to secure the win in the second half, but wayward finishing let them down – not for the first time in the tournament.
Earlier in the day Tonga’s defensive ploy could not stop Caitlin Campbell from opening the scoring after just 31 seconds, the left winger neatly volleying home from the penalty spot after an excellent ball from skipper Kirsty Yallop.
But New Zealand became increasingly frustrated by Tonga’s deep defending after Petria Rennie doubled the score in the 13th minute following a well-weighted cross from Ria Percival.
Shot after shot was sprayed high and wide as the Kiwis lacked composure in the congested penalty area.
New Zealand had to wait till the 41st minute before Yallop finished a neat one-two with Katie Hoyle. Hoyle’s midfield partner Emma Harrison then made it 4-0 two minutes before halftime when she rifled a left-footed shot into the right hand corner after being cleverly set up by Sarah Gregorius.
It was a similar pattern of hit and miss in the second half with halftime substitute Ali Riley (53rd), Yallop (62nd) and second half sub Emma Humphries (71st) completing the rout.
Yallop’s second goal (her fifth of the tournament) was a scorcher with the classy Kiwi captain evading two defenders before blasting into the far-post side-netting from an acute angle on the left edge of the box.
New Zealand coach John Herdman was predictably frustrated afterwards.
“They scored early which is what we asked for. We’d have liked them to score more but short of moving the goal myself, I don’t know what we can do. It’s tear your hair out sort of stuff for a coach.”
“To be fair it could have been 20 but it wasn’t for a lack of trying,” Herdman continued.
Herdman gave Campbell and goalkeeper Aroon Clansey their first game time of the tournament while Harrison and Julia Baldwin enjoyed their first starts.
New Zealand were guilty of conceding possession too easily but had the consolation of Humphries scoring her first goal of the tournament after a series of near misses in the earlier wins over the Solomon Islands (4-0) and Vanuatu (11-0).
“What today has done is given us an indication of what players will be more effective in the semifinals…it’s been a good little outing in that respect.”
New Zealand will meet the loser of Tuesday’s (local time) Group B decider between Papua New Guinea and Samoa in the semifinals. The semifinals are scheduled for 1.30pm and 3.30pm on Thursday (local time).
The winner of Saturday’s 3.30pm final will represent Oceania at the August 16 – September 2 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Russia.
OFC U-20 Women’s Championship – Match Day three results:
Group A –
New Zealand 7 (Caitlin Campbell 1, Petria Rennie 13, Kirsty Yallop 41, 63, Emma Harrison 43, Ali Riley 53, Emma Humphries 71) Tonga 0. Halftime 4-0.
Solomon Islands 1 (Layda Samani 18) Vanuatu 1 (Leisoko Masauvakalo 45). Halftime: 1-1.
Group A P W D L GF GA PTS
NZL 3 3 0 0 22 0 9
TON 3 2 0 1 6 9 6
SOL 3 0 1 2 2 7 1
VAN 3 0 1 2 2 16 1
Group B –
Fiji v New Caledonia, 2pm.
Samoa v Papua New Guinea, 4pm (both local time)