With three points each, Samoa and New Caledonia’s final Group A matches on Saturday – against New Zealand and Tahiti, respectively – will determine which two nations will continue to the semi-finals of the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship 2017.
New Zealand have nearly secured their seats in the semi-final after two strong wins against New Caledonia and Tahiti, but if Samoa can pull off a never-before-seen win over the unbeaten Kiwis, semi-final contention could open up for three teams.
After two consistent and well-executed performances in the competition so far, New Zealand coach Leon Birnie is feeling confident about securing another strong win regardless of the 11 players he selects to start.
“We’re just going to approach it like any other match,” he said.
“Against New Caledonia we had seven changes from the first game, so seven new players got a chance to show us what they can do and why they should be part of this campaign moving forward.
“We’ve got a squad of 18 here and it’s a great opportunity for the coaches to see all of these players play.”
After stunning their home crowd with a dominant 4-0 win against Tahiti, Samoa coach Guillermo Schiltenwolf is feeling more confident than ever as he prepares his side for their meeting with the defending champions.
“If we play like we did against Tahiti, I think we can give New Zealand a good fight,” he said.
“The girls have showed us that they can do it. It will definitely be another tough game but I know we can do the job.”
Eyes will be on New Caledonia in the second match of the day as they take on Tahiti in a Francophone showdown, vying for a crucial three points to secure their semi-final berth.
New Caledonia coach Matthieu Delcroix is confident about dominating Tahiti after the two teams’ past results but is approaching the game cautiously, well-aware about how much is on the line.
“It’s a decisive match and I watched Tahiti. Even if they conceded 17 goals they have a very good team, a lot of quality,” he said.
“We have to rest well, recover then continue to work, play and hopefully achieve qualification for the semi-finals.
“I’m confident in my players, I think they learned a lot against New Zealand and I think we’re going to get a result against Tahiti.”
Although Tahiti are out of contention for the semi-finals, coach Stephanie Spielmann has been focusing on lifting the teams’ morale and hopes to see her side make a strong exit from the competition when they meet New Caledonia.
“Immediately after the last match I had some words with my girls, I told them to cry, to let the tears flow but to also think about the next game,” she said.
“We need to fight like lions for the last match – in respect of all our opponents and in respect of the competition – and hold our heads high.”
New Zealand v Samoa
J. S. Blatter Football Complex
Saturday 12 August
Referee: Tapaita LELENGA (TGA)
Assistant Referee 1: Anna PANGA (PNG)
Assistant Referee 2: Telesia TEISINA (TGA)
Fourth Official: Talalei FAALAVAAU (ASA)
Vital Statistics: New Zealand defeated Samoa 11-0 when the two nations met in the group stage of the OFC U-17 Women’s Championship last year.
The Players: Aniela Jensen controlled the middle of the field in New Zealand’s previous match against New Caledonia, setting up countless opportunities for Grace Wisnewski and switching the play between Maggie Jenkins and Britney Cunningham-Lee to keep the Francophones on their feet. Jensen’s decision-making in front of goal showed confidence and discipline, with the midfielder looking to build-up combinations rather than fire in long-range attempts while also pouncing on opportunities when the shot was on.
Coach Quote: “It’s another game and we’ll go out and try and get a result so we can move forward in this campaign.”
New Zealand: 1. Georgia CANDY (GK), 2. Shannon TREBES, 3. Aneka MITTENDORFF, 4. Hannah MACKAY-WRIGHT, 5. Amy WATERS, 6. Grace WISNEWSKI, 7. Kelli BROWN, 8. Maya HAHN, 9. Margot RAMSAY, 10. Maggie JENKINS, 11. Arabella MAYNARD, 12. Macey FRASER, 13. Rylee GODBOLD, 14. Mackenzie BARRY, 15. Gabrielle RENNIE, 16. Jayda STEWART, 17. Aniela JENSEN, 18. Britney CUNNINGHAM-LEE.
Coach: Leon BIRNIE (NZL)
Vital Statistics: After claiming their first points of the competition in their previous match, Samoa currently sit in third place for Group A, trailing one goal behind New Caledonia.
The Players: Nagem UiagaleleiI had a brilliant game up front for Samoa in their 4-0 win against Tahiti, chasing every ball and scoring Samoa’s third goal. The attacker also set up Samoa’s fourth goal, sending in a hard ball along the ground for substitute Zoe Ruby to follow up and tap in.
Coach Quote: “If we play like we did against Tahiti, I think we can give New Zealand a good fight.”
Samoa 1. Meripa SEUMANUTAFA (GK), 2. Angie VON HEIDERBRANDT, 3. Sina SATARAKA, 4. Michayla CHAMBERLAIN, 5. Tiare TUIMAVAVE, 6. Faith TAEOALII, 7. Alisa TUATAGALOA, 8. Zoe RUBY, 9. Madeleen AH KI, 10. Nagem UIAGALELEI, 11. Kaylani LAUTAIMI, 12. Helina PAULO, 13. Paepae TUITAMA, 14. Mata TALIU, 15. Vineta FALEAANA, 18. Andreya HALL, 20. Alana TUALAULELEI (GK).
Coach: Guillermo SCHILTENWOLF (ARG)
New Caledonia v Tahiti
J.S. Blatter Football Complex
Saturday 12 August
Referee: Torika DELAI (FIJ)
Assistant Referee 1: Lonisa DILIONI (FIJ)
Assistant Referee 2: Jacinta TANGA (VAN)
Fourth Official: Sione MAU (ASA)
Vital Statistics: Sitting second on the ladder, New Caledonia are within arms reach of the knockout stage but will need a win against Tahiti if Samoa manage to pick up three points against New Zealand.
The Players: Marie-Laure Palene and Jackie Pahoa showed their experience in their last match against New Zealand, passing quickly through the midfield and creating some close chances for New Caledonia. The two players also worked hard in defence and made sure to close down any long range attempts from the defending champions.
Coach Quote: “It’s a decisive match and I watched Tahiti. Even if they conceded 17 goals they have a very good team, a lot of quality.”
New Caledonia: 1. Lorenza HNAMANO (GK), 2. Justine MALAXAN, 3. Cheyenne CIWE, 4. Babette SIMANE, 5. Melissa IEKAWE, 6. Lucinda KOINDREDI, 7. Imelda QENEGEI, 8. Jackie PAHOA, 9. Katinka TAKAMATSU, 10. Marie-Laure PALENE, 11. Edsy MATAO, 12. Ismaella WEDEMERINWI, 13. Alizé SAKILIA, 14. Loéa AJAPUHNYA, 15. Fiona IHAGE, 16. Marthe KATRAWA, 17. Chloé UFEPI, 18. Anne-Laure ANGEXETINE, 19. Lorna TARAWIE, 20. Serena HULIWA (GK).
Coach: Matthieu DELCROIX (FRA)
Vital Statistics: Tahiti are out of contention for the knockout stage after two losses to New Zealand and Samoa.
The Players: Vaihei Samin was unlucky not to find the net in Tahiti’s previous match against Samoa, firing in several long range attempt that drifted just over the crossbar. The midfielder’s powerful and accurate kick makes her a dangerous player when Tahiti are in attack.
Coach Quote: “We need to fight like lions for the last match – in respect of all our opponents and in respect of the competition – and hold our heads high.”
Tahiti: 1. Vahinerii PURAGA (GK), 2. Hitiana LONG TANG, 3. Vahinerii KIMITETE, 4. Joelle TEPEA, 5. Naniloa MARO, 6. Lokelani HAUATA, 7. Merehau IOTUA, 8. Tevahine TERIINOHOPUAITERAI, 9. Christiane TETAVAHI, 10. Tiare TEKAKIOTERAGI, 11. Tahia TAMARII, 12. Vahuariki TUFAUNUI, 13. Heipua KOHUEINUI, 14. Vaihei SAMIN, 15. Ranihei MAHAI, 16. Hélène TEMUTU (GK), 17. Anais TUUA-TAVE, 18. Heidy MARAE, 19. Corail HARRY, 20. Pare FLORES.
Coach: Stéphanie SPIELMANN (TAH)