New Caledonia hope to make the most of their rematch against defending champions New Zealand when they battle for the title – and a spot in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018 – in the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship final this Friday afternoon.
The Francophones know they have a difficult task in front of them but coach Matthieu Delcroix is feeling confident after their impressive campaign so far, having secured strong victories in every game except their group stage meeting with the Kiwis.
“I don’t know what will happen but we’ve enjoyed these victories and we’ll see what we can do in the final,” he said.
“We will prepare and look back on the mistakes we have made in previous games and see where we can improve against New Zealand.
“The girls will be ready. They want to show New Zealand that they have improved.”
Regardless of Friday’s result, Delcroix is proud to have seen so much effort and strong spirit from his team over the past two weeks.
“It feels great to make the final,” he said.
“From the beginning of this tournament we’ve shown good spirit and we’ve never given up.”
New Zealand will be feeling confident ahead of the clash after their dominant 7-0 win in the group stage but with Uruguay 2018 only one win away, New Zealand coach Leon Birnie is doing all he can to prepare his side for their best performance yet.
“For these girls it is their first time in a national set up and they’re in a final now and they’ve got a chance to qualify for the World Cup,” he said.
“We need to get off to a good start like we did against Cook Islands. In the other games we had a number of opportunities and the intent has been really good but the execution wasn’t quite there.
“If we get those opportunities in the final, then we need to take them and try and put some goals in as quickly as we can.”
Although New Zealand are familiar with New Caledonia’s style of play, Birnie is keeping to his plan and focusing on the performance and strategy of his own team in their final encounter.
“We’re here to do our own style and work on the things that are going to help these girls be better at the end of this campaign,” he said.
“We’re just going to put the girls out there and hopefully it all goes well.”
New Zealand v New Caledonia
J. S. Blatter Football Complex
Friday 18 August
Referee: Tapaita LELENGA (TGA)
Assistant Referee 1: Maria SALAMASINA (SAM)
Assistant Referee 2: Shama MAEMAE (SOL)
Fourth Official: Ben AUKWAI (SOL)
Vital Statistics: New Zealand defeated Papua New Guinea 8-0 in the final of the last edition of the competition to claim their third consecutive title in the competition.
The Players: Captain Maya Hahn led well in the middle of the field for New Zealand in their semi-final against Cook Islands, directing players and building up strong combinations to set her attackers up with opportunities at goal. After several near misses, Hahn was unfortunate to only sink the ball once against Cook Islands –after a penalty was given to New Zealand – but her execution was clinical and calm, leaving no chance for goalkeeper Dora Iripa to save it.
Coach Quote: “We need to get off to a good start like we did against Cook Islands. In the other games we had a number of opportunities and the intent has been really good but the execution wasn’t quite there.”
“If we get those opportunities in the final, then we need to take them and try and put some goals in as quickly as we can.
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: New Caledonia will be making their first ever appearance in the final of the competition.
The Players: Substitute Edsy Matao only came on in the 68th minute of New Caledonia’s semi-final but wasted no time, using her speed to break through Fiji’s tight backline and find the net. Her energy up front made her an effective impact player for New Caledonia, lifting the team for the final minutes of the clash.
Coach Quote: “We will prepare and look back on the mistakes we have made in previous games and see where we can improve ahead of our game against New Zealand.”
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)