A top-of-the-table clash to open the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship’s fourth day of action will determine a clear leader in Group A when New Zealand and New Caledonia meet on Tuesday afternoon.
Tahiti and Samoa will both be fighting for redemption following the deciding clash, hungry to earn their first points of the competition – and a second chance at the knockout stage – after suffering heavy defeats in their opening matches.
New Zealand and New Caledonia are sure to draw a crowd after their impressive openers. New Zealand lived up to their reputation as competition favourites – defeating Tahiti 17-1 – and New Caledonia coach Matthieu Delcroix is preparing for what he knows will be the toughest clash of the competition.
“With New Zealand, we were always ready because we knew it was coming,” he said.
“We’ll play our best and do what we can on the field. At least if we do lose, there’s still a third match for us to try and win so it’s far from over.
“We’ll be giving our all to try and get as far as possible.”
Although New Zealand coach Leon Birnie is being careful not to underestimate their Francophone opponents, he has no plans of letting New Caledonia’s previous result influence New Zealand’s approach to the game.
“I came down and watched the first 15 minutes of New Caledonia’s first game but our focus is on us and our journey,” he said.
“If we qualify, that’s fantastic and we get to go to the World Cup, but it is about these girls as individuals and trying to improve them. Our focus is all on us and how we can help these girls be in a better place at the end of the campaign.”
“We’ve got to prepare now off the field and make sure that the girls have fully recovered and are ready for their next match.”
Last Saturday’s heavy losses exposed key areas of weaknesses for both Samoa and Tahiti but after two days of recovery and preparation, the Polynesian duo are eager to showcase their improvement on Tuesday afternoon.
Tahiti coach Stephanie Spielmann has focused on both the mental and physical side of the game, working on keeping spirits high while also pushing the team to play faster.
“We’ve been working on a lot of things. We have to play faster and the girls saw that against New Zealand. We needed to play one or two touch but my girls were always stopping and thinking ‘what can I do with the ball’,” she said.
“In friendlies against Cook Islands, we lost the first game and won the second. That’s what I’ve been reminding our team to help stay positive – we lost the first game but we will win the second one.”
Recovery has been the main focus for Samoa coach Guillermo Schiltenwolf, with many of his key players still feeling the effects of their physical encounter with New Caledonia.
“We’ve had two days to prepare for our game against Tahiti and in that time we’ve had to reassess the players because we have a lot of injuries,” he said.
“We’ve worked hard to try and recover some of the girls who picked up some niggles and hopefully we can have the same starting 11 on the field but it’s going to be tough.”
New Zealand v New Caledonia
J. S. Blatter Football Complex
Tuesday 8 August
Referee: Tapaita LELENGA (TGA)
Assistant Referee 1: Telesia TEISINA (TGA)
Assistant Referee 2: Shama MAEMAE (SOL)
Fourth Official: Sione MAU (ASA)
Vital Statistics: New Zealand defeated New Caledonia 12-0 when the two nations met in the group stage of the OFC U-17 Women’s Championship last year.
The Players: Kelli Brown stunned Tahiti in New Zealand’s opener, finding the net seven times throughout the match and securing a four goal lead for New Zealand in the first 12 minutes. Brown ran endlessly until the final whistle and kept goalkeeper Vahinerii Puraga on her toes with countless attempts at goal.
Coach Quote: “We’ve got to prepare now off the field and make sure that the girls have recovered. We found it really hard in the heat in trainings and we were lucky that the rain kicked in right before our game with Tahiti. We’ve got to make sure we recover well and that all the girls are ready to go for their next match.”
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: After their 6-0 win over Samoa, New Caledonia sit on equal points with New Zealand but will need a win to overtake the high-scoring Kiwis and claim the top position in Group A.
The Players: Katinka Takamatsu was a danger up front on Saturday, contributing two goals early in the second half in New Caledonia’s 6-0 win. Takamatsu’s calmness under pressure and precision in her attempts make her a difficult player to judge when she reaches the attacking third.
Coach Quote: “We’ll play our best and do what we can on the field. At least if we do lose, there’s still a third match for us to try and win so it’s far from over. We’ll be giving our all to try and get as far as possible.”
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)
Tahiti v Samoa
J.S. Blatter Football Complex
Tuesday 8 August
Referee: Talalei FAALAVAAU (ASA)
Assistant Referee 1: Jacinta TANGA (VAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Lonisa DILIONI (FIJ)
Fourth Official: Torika DELAI (FIJ)
Vital Statistics: Despite their heavy loss to New Zealand, two wins could still be enough for Tahiti to continue through to the knockout stage of the competition.
The Players: Vahinerii Puraga had her work cut out for her against New Zealand but the goalkeeper had many great moments, pulling off countless impressive saves and persisting through the gruelling encounter. Puraga’s quick reflexes and patience on the ball became more and more evident as Tahiti’s opening match nerves calmed and their better-structured game came into action.
Coach Quote: “We know that our group is really hard. Samoa, New Zealand and New Caledonia – it is a great group for us. Every match is a final for us. We will learn, we will work and we will win a match – maybe against Samoa.”
Tahiti: 1. Vahinerii PURAGA (GK), 2. Hitiana LONG TANG, 3. Vahinerii KIMITETE, 4. Joelle TEPEA, 5. Naniloa MARO, 6. Lokelani HAUATA, 7. Merehau IOTUA, 8. Tevahine TERIINOHOPUAITERAI, 9. Christiane TETAVAHI, 10. Tiare TEKAKIOTERAGI, 11. Tahia TAMARII, 12. Vahuariki TUFAUNUI, 13. Heipua KOHUEINUI, 14. Vaihei SAMIN, 15. Ranihei MAHAI, 16. Hélène TEMUTU (GK), 17. Anais TUUA-TAVE, 18. Heidy MARAE, 19. Corail HARRY, 20. Pare FLORES.
Coach: Stéphanie SPIELMANN (TAH)
Vital Statistics: With both teams sitting at the bottom of the table, a win for Samoa will be crucial for their OFC U-16 Women’s campaign, extended their lead ahead of Tahiti and potentially edging them into second-place – depending on the result between New Zealand and New Caledonia.
The Players: United States-based player Tiare Tuimavae showed strength across the field, dropping deep to help defend New Caledonia while also pushing up and creating chances for Samoa. Her experience in the game is evident in her tactical positioning and her guidance and leadership of teammates.
Coach Quote: We’ve been working hard to try and recover some of the girls who picked up some niggles. Hopefully we can have the same starting 11 on the field but it’s going to be tough.”
Samoa 1. Meripa SEUMANUTAFA (GK), 2. Angie VON HEIDERBRANDT, 3. Sina SATARAKA, 4. Michayla CHAMBERLAIN, 5. Tiare TUIMAVAVE, 6. Faith TAEOALII, 7. Alisa TUATAGALOA, 8. Zoe RUBY, 9. Madeleen AH KI, 10. Nagem UIAGALELEI, 11. Kaylani LAUTAIMI, 12. Helina PAULO, 13. Paepae TUITAMA, 14. Mata TALIU, 15. Vineta FALEAANA, 18. Andreya HALL, 20. Alana TUALAULELEI (GK).
Coach: Guillermo SCHILTENWOLF (ARG)