March 31, 2012
WHANGAREI – The Football Ferns have taken a major step towards Olympic qualification with a resounding 8-0 win over Papua New Guinea in the first leg of their OFC Women’s Olympic Qualifier final in Whangarei on Saturday.
New Zealand scored four goals in each half and were never threatened by the visitors who set out to keep the Football Ferns at bay and take the tie back to Port Moresby on Wednesday still in the hunt.
But from the sixth minute when the Whangarei-raised pair of Abby Erceg and Hannah Wilkinson combined to open the scoring in front of a 2243 strong crowd at Toll Stadium, the home side never let up.
In a sign of how much distance the Ferns have put between themselves and their Oceania rivals in recent years, the score was not reflective of New Zealand’s dominance with a litany of let-offs and a mass of defenders in the Papua New Guinea half keeping the score in single figures.
“There’s definitely things we need to work on from the game but it’s pretty hard to fault them,” said New Zealand coach Tony Readings after the match.
“They played for 90 minutes and were relentless. They kept the ball and kept pressing forward and that’s all we can ask for really.”
With a comfortable lead at the halfway stage of the two-legged final Readings said the focus for the return leg was to finish the job of claiming the 12th and final place at the finals in London while getting closer to the standards an Olympic Games demands.
“Going in at 8-0 it would be easier for us to take our foot off the pedal but we can’t afford that. Whilst we’re playing these qualifiers, other teams are playing the top nations week in week out.
“So we’re going to keep pushing. We’ll take a look at a few players who were on the bench today but we’re running out of time between now and the Olympics, and we have to keep improving.”\
Captain Rebecca Smith volleyed in from a corner in the 13th minute to double the lead, and a Sarah Gregorius tap in was followed by a long range daisy-cutter from Amber Hearn late in the first half to boost the score to 4-0 at the break.
Substitute Rosie White’s second touch was a diving header in the 64th minute and the 18-year-old added a second goal in the 89th minute, a deft lob after a long pass from Smith.
Either side of her latter effort, White had a heavy role in New Zealand’s sixth and eight goals with saved shots leading to Ria Percival’s well-taken 70th minute effort and a second from Amber Hearn in injury time.
The Football Ferns will train in Auckland on Monday before flying out to Port Moresby on Tuesday.
OFC Women’s Olympic Qualifier – First leg
Toll Stadium, Whangarei
Saturday March 31
New Zealand 8 (Hannah WILKINSON 6’, Rebecca SMITH 13’, Sarah GREGORIUS 40’, Amber HEARN 43’, 90+1’; Rosie WHITE 64’, 89’; RIA PERCIVAL 70’)
Papua New Guinea 0
New Zealand: 1-Jenny BINDON (GK), 2-Ria PERCIVAL, 4-Katie HOYLE, 5-Abby ERCEG, 6-Rebecca SMITH, 7-Ali RILEY, 9-Amber HEARN, 10-Sarah GREGORIUS (13-Rosie WHITE 62’), 11-Kirsty YALLOP, 16-Annalie LONGO (8-Hayley MOORWOOD 46’), 17-Hannah WILKINSON.
Substitutes not used: 3-Anna GREEN, 12-Betsy HASSETT, 14-Holly PATTERSON, 20-Rebecca ROLLS (RGK), 21-Hannah BROMLEY.
Coach: Tony READINGS
Papua New Guinea: 20-Linda BUNAGA (GK), 2-Aida GEROTA, 3-Kathrina SALAIAU, 4-Linah HONEAKII, 5-Docas SESEVO, 10-Barbra MUTA, 11-Esther MUTA (12-Clare TSUGA 74’), 13-Daisy WINAS, 15-Deslyne SINIU, 17-Rumona MORRIS (14-Sandra BIRUM 58’), 19-Fatima RAMA (16-Georgina KAIKAS 27’).
Substitutes not used: 1-Fidelma WATPORE (RGK), 6-Agai MAX, 9-Defney FRANCIS, 18-Zeen LIMBAI.
Coach: Steven MUNE
Cautions: Kathrina SALAIAU 75’
OFC Women’s Olympic Qualifier – Second leg
Papua New Guinea v New Zealand
PMRL Stadium, Port Moresby
Wednesday April 4
Kickoff: 2pm (4pm NZT)