Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek
New Zealand Women completed their preparations for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ with a confident 2-0 win over Vietnam in their final warm-up match at McLean Park in Napier.
First-half goals from CJ Bott and Jacqui Hand gave the World Cup co-hosts a comfortable buffer that Vietnam never looked capable of breaching.
Dominating proceedings from the off, the Football Ferns looked dangerous every time they ventured into their opponents territory and almost took an early lead when Jaqcui Hand muscled her way in between two defenders but her prodded effort was saved at the near post by Vietnam goalkeeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh.
Betsy Hassett was a constant threat from midfield as the Kiwis pushed aggressively when out of possession. She almost opened the scoring in the 12th minute after good play from Indiah-Paige Riley but could only slice her effort wide of goal.
New Zealand didn’t have to wait long to find the net however. CJ Bott found herself with acres of space from a short corner and her cross-shot beat ‘keeper Tran Thi at the near post via a slight deflection off defender Trần Thị Thu Thảo.
In front of a passionate and vocal home crowd in Napier of over 6,000, the Ferns added a second just before half-time. Riley made space for herself on the right-hand side of the area and her low pass across the face of goal presented Jacqui Hand with the simplest of tap-ins to double her team’s lead.
Hand should have had her second and New Zealand’s third in the dying moments of the half but could only side-foot wide following a Ria Percival corner that had been flicked on by Katie Bowen.
Vietnam – who will play their group stages match in New Zealand – were a much improved outfit in the second period but despite showing a higher level of defensive resilience continued to struggle in creating chances. Midfielder Huynh Nhu, who holds the nation’s record for international goals, was the standout creative outlet but found herself with little support with which to test the Kiwis backline.
A number of changes on both sides dulled the edge in the second-half and clear-cut chances were few and far between; both teams cautious of pushing too hard with the showpiece tournament just around the corner.
There was a brief moment of concern for New Zealand when goalscorer Bott went down when clipped on the ankle by Thai Thi Thao but the defender was able to recover and see out the rest of the ninety.
A first clean-sheet in 11 matches and a first home win since 2012 will surely gives the Football Ferns a boost heading into their opening match at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ against Norway on July 20.
New Zealand: 2 (CJ BOTT 17′, Jacqui HAND 44′)