New Zealand and Papua New Guinea both picked up three points on Match Day 2 of the OFC U-19 Women’s Championship 2017 while Tonga and Samoa had to settle for a draw at Ngahue Reserve in Auckland today.
It was another high scoring encounter for New Zealand as they beat Fiji 9-1 before Papua New Guinea found their feet to secure a convincing 7-0 victory over New Caledonia. Samoa took a first half lead but Tonga came back in the second half forcing them to take a share of the points with a 1-1 draw.
New Zealand found an early rhythm in the opening match as Hannah Blake took just five minutes to find the back of the net, closely followed by a goal for Dayna Stevens just two minutes later. An assist this time for Blake saw Jacqui Hand get her name on the scoresheet, before one each from Michaela Foster and Emma Main brought the tally to five at the break.
New Zealand took things slowly after the restart and despite a second for Blake in the 55th minute, Fiji were starting to look like a more competitive team.
That hard work paid off in the 64th minute when Cema Nasau put the ball past New Zealand goalkeeper Anna Leat, marking the first time New Zealand has conceded at this level since an own goal against Tonga back in 2014.
Samantha Tawharu got her first goal of the game from the penalty spot after a handball then followed it up with another strong finish two minutes later for her brace. The New Zealander nearly made it three when the referee pointed to the penalty spot again but Fiji goalkeeper Ateca Tuwai made an impressive save to deny the substitute. New Zealand’s ninth was scored by Dayna Stevens with just eight minutes left in regulation time.
Despite the margin, New Zealand coach Gareth Turnbull was impressed with Fiji’s effort and credited both teams for a valiant effort in demanding conditions.
“I think our performance was more complete today. We still left a lot of opportunities out there, which is an area for us to look at, but I’m pleased with the result,” he said.
“There was a lot to like about Fiji. I thought they pressed and showed some good energy, elements we need to find in our game more. It was tough conditions so I’m pleased with today.”
Fiji coach Saroj Kumar was also impressed with the performance of both sides considering the conditions, but believes his team has many areas to work on before their next encounter with Samoa.
“I think playing in these conditions – in this cold – we played well. We even managed to score a goal and that is very good for us,” he said.
“We tried to hold them as much as possible but I think they were too fast for us. We need to do a little more work in defending and building up from the back and in attacking as well. We have to have numbers in there to score goals.”
Papua New Guinea recovered quickly from their opening day loss applying plenty of pressure to their Francophone opponents New Caledonia in the second encounter of the day.
Some impressive work in midfield from Ramona Padio kept the pressure on New Caledonia, who held off their opponents for a good 30 minutes before cracks started to show.
Jacklyn Maiyosi capitalised on some goalmouth disarray to put the ball past keeper Karine Xozame before Papua New Guinea’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup startlet Nicollete Ageva placed the ball perfectly to take her side to two.
With a taste of the goal, Papua New Guinea came back for the second half hungry for more, and it was midfielder Padio who increased the lead three minutes into the half with a shot that bounced under a diving Xozame.
Ageva added three more in the space of just ten minutes as New Caledonia struggled to find an answer to the PNG attack. Maiyosi’s second in the 87th minute secured the 7-0 win for her side.
Papua New Guinea coach Rachel Wadunah was overjoyed with the performance of her team and pleased to see them make the most of their chances up front.
“I was very happy. Despite the wind against us, we were able to perform well. The girls followed my instructions well and they were finally able to score,” she said.
“In our first game against New Zealand, we sat deep and we were more defensive but with this game we pressed very high and had chances to convert those attacking moments into goals.”
New Caledonia coach Kamali Fitialeata was somewhat lost for words at the final whistle, unable to comprehend what happened to his side between the opener and today’s game.
“The wind, the rain, the cold, that was there for both sides today so that’s not really an excuse,” he said.
“Maybe the cold was too much for my girls, but I really don’t have the words for today’s performance. We just didn’t play.”
The final game of the day saw the traditional rivalry between Tonga and Samoa come into action, and both sides brought their best in an effort to secure some goals, and some points on the board.
Tonga coach Christian Koaneti said the result wasn’t exactly what he was after, but the side performed well and have to be happy with at least a share of the spoils.
“It’s not the result I was hoping for but I’ll settle for the draw. At least it is a confidence boost for the girls,” he said.
“It was an even match, and we had a few close calls in the second half when the wind was in our favour. But that’s how the game goes.
“In the end, the girls put up a good fight. To me the girls did play according to what we wanted but Samoa played well too.”
Samoa looked incredibly dangerous throughout the first half with Shalom Fiso showing speed and skill to keep Tonga’s backline busy. The experienced Tongan defenders did well to hold off their opponents, especially with the strong winds on Samoa’s side.
Goalkeeper Mele Akolo did well with a number of long range efforts which were lifted and carried by the gusty weather, but unfortunately that hard work was undone when an own goal slipped through to give Samoa the lead 35 minutes in.
The back-and-forth nature of the match continued in the second half, and with the wind having dropped off the teams were able to get a much better handle on ball. Some decent attacks came for Tonga and they were incredibly unfortunate on a number of occasions, as were their opponents.
A handball in the Samoa box in the 88th minute gave Tonga the opportunity they’d been waiting for but when captain Pumu Taholo’s attempt from the spot hit the crossbar, Samoa was already celebrating the win.
The celebrations were short-lived however as Seini Lutu floated a shot in which the on-form Katarina Ah Sui couldn’t quite handle. With just a few minutes left on the clock neither side found the winner they were after, leaving them with a share of the spoils.
Samoa coach Martin Tamasese said there were no excuses for his side who had the better of the first half, but failed to capitalise.
“We had a lot of chances in the first half but we just didn’t put them away,” he said.
“We knew the Tonga would be coming to play really hard, and like us wanted to get three points today, but hard luck for us because we could only draw.”