The Young Football Ferns have started the OFC U-17 Women's Championships with a thumping 7-0 win over the Cook Islands at Centre Park in Mangere yesterday.
The Young Football Ferns victory sees the Paul Temple-coached side comfortably atop the standings and in pole position to qualify for September's FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Azerbaijan.
New Zealand now takes on New Caledonia, who lost 1-0 to Papua New Guinea in the opening game of the tournament today, and can all-but confirm their place in Azerbaijan with another victory on Wednesday.
Early chances came and went for the home side until a 18th minute strike from Martine Puketapu following a slide rule through ball by Daisy Cleverley settled the nerves. Skipper Catherine Bott doubled the lead on four minutes later with a thunderous header and Emma Rolston added a third from the penalty mark after Hannah Carlsen was brought down on 29 minutes. Carlsen grabbed the Young Football Ferns fourth with a superb long range shot to stretch the gap to four at the break.
Two goals in four second half minutes midway through the second half for Briar Palmer put the Young Football Ferns 6-0 up before Hannah Carlsen completed her own brace on 75 minutes to make it seven without reply.
Young Football Ferns coach Paul Temple was satisfied with a solid start to the campaign.
"I was pleased with the performance particularly in the first half and thought we showed some nice football out there today. We talked about movement before the game so it's nice to see our rotation particularly down the right hand side in the first half was really good. Fullbacks getting forward and crossing makes a difference," Temple said.
Temple said an injury to captain Catherine Bott forced the impressive Megan Lee into the game, while there was praise for Hannah Carlsen and youngster Daisy Cleverley.
"Hannah and Daisy were terrific today, especially Daisy, considering she's just 14 (years old), I thought she ran the game for long periods, I was really pleased with her," Temple said.
The Young Football Ferns take a one day break before they return to action on Wednesday when they play New Caledonia at 1pm on Wednesday. Group rivals Cook Islands and Papua New Guinea clash in the day's other fixture.
Meanwhile, the Junior Football Ferns, coached by Aaron MacFarland, get their OFC U-20 Women's Championship campaign underway at Centre Park, Mangere, on Tuesday when they take on Papua New Guinea at 3pm. New Caledonia meets Samoa at 1pm.
Both OFC Women's U-17 and U-20 championships are being played concurrently.
- Herald Online