Soccer: Young Football Ferns fall in opener

The Young Football Ferns' chances of advancing to the quarter final stage have taken a hit after they were beaten 1-0 by Mexico in their opening Fifa under-17 women's World Cup fixture in Azerbaijan overnight.

The defeat will be hard for Paul Temple and his charges to take after claiming the majority of possession but failing to create any meaningful chances in brutal 33 degree heat at Bayil Stadium in Baku.

"It was hot. It was stifling really, and when you add in the nerves it adds up," said Temple.

"We played out from the back and passed it around well but we did most of our work in areas that weren't dangerous," he added, "We do have pace, but you didn't see it today and that was vital, really.

"There was some poor movement, and we didn't get the ball into that zone in front of the penalty box to create chances and that is an area we need to work on if we're to be a goal threat."

Conversely Mexico employed a 'fire on sight' tactic for much of the opening period, out-shooting the Young Football Ferns by 24 to seven with only a handful on target.

Fernanda Perez's goal after 36 minutes was the difference between the teams.

The lively frontrunner had rocked Lily Alfeld's crossbar earlier in the match and then slid the ball wide of the upright moments later.

Her persistence finally paid off after a period of sustained Mexican pressure, with a free-header from a corner just outside the six-yard-box.

The score could have been more had it not been for the brilliance of Alfeld who spectacularly denied substitute Samantha Arellano and foiled Taylor Alvarado twice in quick succession in one-on-one situations.

Despite shading Mexico in terms of possession, the Young Football Ferns didn't create any clear opportunities and were often reduced to speculative chances, the best of which fell to Canada-based Emma Fletcher who rippled the roof of the net from a first half free kick.

With CJ Bott ruled out with an ankle injury, 2010 under-17 Women's World Cup veteran Megan Lee started in the centre of defence, but the injury nightmare continued for Temple with Lee hobbling off after 70 minutes.

It is the second recent match in which a Mexican side has had an impact on New Zealand's hopes following the women's under-20's loss in their final group match to the Concacaf powerhouse in Japan last month.

The Young Football Ferns now face Japan in what shapes as a must-win encounter on Thursday morning (NZT) a fact not lost on Temple.

"There's a bit of pressure on that one now. If we're going to progress we need to get a point or three. It's a very difficult task and it always was going to be a difficult task."

The other match in Group C will see Mexico play Brazil earlier on the same day.

Mexico 1 (Amanda Perez 36') New Zealand 0 HT: 1-0

- APNZ

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