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NZF: U-20 women on verge of World Cup

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Only one game now stands between New Zealand and a place at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup after the favourites continued their rampant form at the regional qualifying tournament in Rarotonga this afternoon.

Having swept all before them in the group stages by scoring nearly 50 goals and conceding none, New Zealand went into the semi-finals of the OFC U-19 Women’s Championship with confidence levels sky high.

Vanuatu had topped their pool but were yet to meet a side possessing the quality of the defending champions and struggled to contain their free-scoring attack.

Coach Gemma Lewis had taken the opportunity to rotate her squad in the final group win over American Samoa three days ago but many key players returned today with Aneka Mittendorff, Amelia Abbott, Maggie Jenkins, Grace Wisnewski and Kelli Brown all returning to the starting line-up.

Fullback Mackenzie Barry was not considered for selection as she is still recovering after suffering a dislocated elbow earlier in group play.

The hearts of the Vanuatu players would have dropped when they saw Brown’s name back on the team sheet as she had caused carnage for opposition defences in the tournament so far, hitting 15 goals to lead the golden boot standings.

Brown did not see any game time at all in the previous match but picked up exactly where she had left off, taking only five minutes to open the scoring. She had turned that into a hat-trick within the first half hour while further strikes to Gabi Rennie and captain Jenkins made it 5-0 at the break.

Jenkins spurned a golden opportunity to put her side even further in front soon after the restart after winning a penalty but dragged her attempt from the spot wide.

The skipper’s blushes were spared though as New Zealand continued to completely control the game, Brown finishing with a five-goal haul to take her tournament tally to 20 while Grace Wisnewski found the net twice and more goals to Ava Collins and Lara Wall made the final score 11-0.

The other semi-final took place at the same CIFA Football Academy venue earlier in the day and was a far more closely-fought affair, New Caledonia eventually triumphing on penalties over fellow Francophones Tahiti after a scoreless stalemate.

New Zealand will now take on New Caledonia in the final on Friday 13 September at 2pm (NZT) with a place at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup on offer to the victor.

Match Details

Vanuatu 0

New Zealand 11 (Kelli Brown 5’, 10’, 26’, 56’, 72’, Gabi Rennie 21’, Maggie Jenkins 39’, Ava Collins 52’, Grace Wisnewski 68’, 90’, Lara Wall 76’)

HT: 0-5

New Zealand: 12. Alisha Perry (GK), 4. Aneka Mittendorff, 5. Marisa van der Meer, 7. Gabi Rennie (16. Lara Wall 73’), 8. Amelia Abbott, 9. Maggie Jenkins (c) (18. Rene Wasi 74’), 10. Grace Wisnewski, 11. Kelli Brown, 15. Dani Ward, 17. Tahlia Herman-Watt, 19. Ava Collins (14. Arabella Maynard 61’)

Substitutes not used: 1. Nadia Olla (GK), 3. Hannah Mackay-Wright, 6. Rose Morton, 13. Charlotte Wilford-Carroll

Coach: Gemma Lewis

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