OFC Women’s Nations Cup 2018

The Ferns celebrate winning the OFC Nations Cup. OFC Women’s Nations Cup 2018 Final, Fiji v New Zealand, Stade Numa Daly, Noumea, New Caledonia, Saturday 1st December 2018. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / www.phototek.nz

The 11th edition of the OFC Nations Cup took place in 2018 and was hosted in New Caledonia for the first time. It also doubled as OFC qualifying for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France as well as the 2020 Summer Olympic women’s football tournament in Japan, and was contested between eight teams. New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, and the Cook Islands all qualified automatically as the seven highest-ranked OFC members, whilst Fiji joined them after progressing through the qualifying tournament. The tournament moved back to a format seen in prior editions, with two groups of four teams and the top two in each group progressing through to the semi-finals.

Hosts New Caledonia were paired alongside Papua New Guinea, Tahiti, and Samoa in Group A, whilst three-time defending champions New Zealand were drawn alongside Fiji, Tonga, and the Cook Islands in Group B. Hosts New Caledonia were making their first OFC Women’s Nations Cup appearance since 1983, and opened the tournament with a memorable 4-2 victory over Tahiti. They proved no match for three-time runners-up Papua New Guinea in their second match though, succumbing to five goals from Marie Kaipu in a 2-6 defeat. Comfortable 5-0 and 3-1 wins over Samoa and Tahiti wrapped up top spot for Papua New Guinea, whilst New Caledonia eventually joined them in the semi-finals after securing a 2-0 victory over Samoa in their final group game.

New Caledonia’s Jackie Pahoa’s shot is blocked by Papua New Guinea’s Marie Kaipu. OFC Women’s Nations Cup 2018, New Caledonia v Papua New Guinea, Stade Yoshida, Kone, New Caledonia, Wednesday 21st November 2018. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / www.phototek.nz

Two hat-tricks from Sarah Gregorious against Tonga and Fiji carried New Zealand as they dominated Group B. The three-time defending champions beat Tonga 11-0 and Fiji 10-0, whilst also defeating the Cook Islands 6-0 to claim top spot with maximum points. Fiji stood above the rest in the race for second, turning on the style with hat-tricks from Luisa Tamanitoakula, Cema Nasau, and Sofi Diyalowai in a big 12-0 victory over Tonga. A 3-0 win over the Cook Islands made sure of their place in the semi-finals. Fiji would end up qualifying for their first OFC Women’s Nations Cup final with a stunning 5-1 upset victory over Papua New Guinea in the first semi-final. Goals in each half from Trina Davis set them on their way, ensuring Papua New Guinea missed out on a top two finish for the first time since 2003.

Fiji’s Trina Davis celebrates her goal. OFC Women’s Nations Cup 2018, Semi Final, Papua New Guinea v Fiji, Stade De La Roche, Mare, New Caledonia, Wednesday 28th November 2018. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / www.phototek.nz

The second semi-final was again dominated by New Zealand, who romped home for a big 8-0 win over hosts New Caledonia. Emma Rolston caught the eye with a hat-trick, whilst Rosie White offered support with two goals of her own.

Nothing was going to separate New Zealand from their sixth OFC Women’s Nations Cup title and fourth in a row, as they demolished Fiji 8-0 in the final at the Stade Numa-Daly Magenta in Noumea. Rosie White, Sarah Gregorius, and Betsy Hassett all scored two goals, ensuring New Zealand also qualified for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2020 Summer Olympics. Earlier Papua New Guinea repeated their win over New Caledonia in the group stage, picking up a 7-1 victory over the hosts in the third place play-off with the help of four goals from Meagan Gunemba. The Papua New Guinea striker finished as the tournament’s joint top goal-scorer with eight, alongside New Zealand’s Sarah Gregorius. Rosie White won the golden ball, whilst Fiji’s Adi Tuwai won the golden glove, and New Zealand received the fair play award.

New Zealand celebrate winning the Women’s Nations Cup. OFC Women’s Nations Cup 2018 Final, Fiji v New Zealand, Stade Numa Daly, Noumea, New Caledonia, Saturday 1st December 2018. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / www.phototek.nz