Photo Credit: OFC Media via Christophe Fotozz (Fiji’s Kasanita Tabu and New Zealand’s Charli Dunn)

Having already met once in the group stage in Papeete, Fiji and New Zealand are preparing to face off again, this time in the final of the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship 2023.

The Kiwis took the spoils earlier in the campaign with a 4-1 victory at Stade Pater, the only match in which Leon Birnie’s side have conceded a goal thus far.

As for Fiji, Head Coach Angelina Chua will be hoping that the dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Tahiti in their semi-final will act as a catalyst as her side seeks to cause an upset on Tuesday evening (local time).

Heading into Tuesday’s final, Chua – who coached the Fiji side that lost to New Zealand at the OFC  U-19 Women’s Championship 2023 – was acutely aware of the significance of the moment for her young squad.

“We’re really excited because it’s the first ever U-16 Women’s final for us. I’m really proud of the girls and their achievements and we’re prepared for his final game,” Chua sid.

With the two sides having already faced off earlier in the campaign, there will be surprises for Fiji as they look to improve on their group stage defeat to New Zealand.

“It’s fortunate for us that we played them in the group stage, so you know we’ll try a couple of things. We had in our mind that we might meet them in the final, so we were set up to prepare for the group stage and then potentially the final.”

Like Chua, New Zealand Head Coach Leon Birnie coached his side at the OFC U-19 Women’s Championship and will be looking to make it two from two in heading back to Aotearoa with the trophy.

Birnie was also conscious of Tuesday’s being a first for his squad and the excitement that can generate for this team.

“We’re really excited. It’s their first ever final at an international level. We just want to get the final underway. A 7pm kick-off, it’s a long day on that final day but for the girls, they just want to get out there, perform in front of their families and their friends and hopefully put a good performance on,” he said.

With a lack of experience common at this age category, Birnie had some words of advice for his young charges before they take to the field against Fiji.

“Look, it’s just another game. We just want to go through the same routines, have the same build up and treat it just like another game. If they can do that – i’m sure there’ll be a vocal crowd like there was in the semis – if they can deal with that, relax and get the ball down, then I think we should be able to put on a good performance,” Birnie explained.

In the day’s opening match, hosts Tahiti will take on Tonga in the Play-off for 3rd place.

Tahiti narrowly missed out on a a final appearance after losing on penalties to Fiji 3-2 in a breathtaking semi-final encounter. Despite that disappointment, they will be looking to end their campaign on a high note in front of a partisan home crowd.

Tonga, who impressed in progressing to the semi-final stage, struggled to get into the game in their semi-final defeat to New Zealand but can take heart from their narrow loss to Tahiti earlier in the group stage.

It took two second-goals from Tahiti to turn that match around, with Tonga running out of steam late on.

Whatever is left in the tank for these four nations will be pushed to the limit on the final day, with Fiji and New Zealand on the brink of championship glory and a place in the 2024 FIFA U-17 World Cup at stake.

OFC U-16 Women’s Championship 2023
September 26

Play-off for 3rd place
Tahiti v Tonga | WATCH LIVE

Fiji v New Zealand | WATCH LIVE