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NZ focused for OFC U-19 Final

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The New Zealand U-20 women have been the dominant side at the OFC U-19 Championship in the past two weeks, but they know that will count for little in the final against New Caledonia tomorrow.

The Gemma Lewis-coached team has defeated Samoa, Tahiti and American Samoa in their pool play, with an incredible goal difference of +47 with none conceded, before beating Vanuatu 11-0 in the second semi-final.

New Caledonia, on the other hand, also went through pool play undefeated and then overcame Tahiti 7-6 on penalties to make the OFC Championship Final.

Lewis knows they have everything to play for tomorrow at the CIFA Academy in Rarotonga with a place in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup on the line.

"It is a huge occasion and one we are really looking forward to," said Lewis who is in her first cycle of leading the NZ U-20 women. "I am proud of the way the players have handled the challenge so far and we take nothing for granted again tomorrow."

New Zealand, the most successful team in the history of the OFC U-19 Championship with six titles, will be looking to claim their seventh win, while New Caledonia are in their first final.

"All of this team are very focused and want to finish off the tournament as OFC Champions, and book their place in the FIFA U-20 World Cup next year. To do that we will have to play well and make the most of this opportunity."

Waikato forward Kelli Brown has led the goal scoring for New Zealand in the Cook Islands. She is on top of the golden boot standings with an incredible 20 goals.

Lewis has shared the captain’s arm-band around the team. Maggie Jenkins, Nadia Olla and Gabi Rennie have all captained the side throughout their four games.

"This has been a whole squad effort," she said. "We have leaders all across the park, it doesn’t matter if you are wearing the captain’s arm-band or not, you can still be a leader. It is never easy playing in the Islands so it is important that we have been able to rest and rotate players. The attitude from the players has been great and everyone is excited to try and finish the tournament on a high note."

The location and dates for the 2020 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup are yet to be confirmed, but New Zealand wants to add their name to the qualified teams tomorrow.

OFC U-19 Championship Final

New Zealand v New Caledonia

When: 4pm (2pm NZT) Friday 13 September

Where: CIFA Academy in Rarotonga

What: Winner earns a place in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup

Live scoring on www.oceaniafootball.com

#OFCU19W #NCLNZL

New Zealand (from): 1. Nadia Olla (GK), 3. Hannah Mackay-Wright, 4. Aneka Mittendorff, 5. Marisa van der Meer, 6. Rose Morton, 7. Gabi Rennie 8. Amelia Abbott, 9. Maggie Jenkins (c), 10. Grace Wisnewski, 11. Kelli Brown, 12. Alisha Perry (GK), 13. Charlotte Wilford-Carroll, 14. Arabella Maynard, 15. Dani Ward, 16. Lara Wall, 17. Tahlia Herman-Watt, 18. Rene Wasi, 19. Ava Collins

Coach: Gemma Lewis

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