New Zealand’s Young Football Ferns have thrashed the Cook Islands 7-0 in their first U-17 Championship match and already look set to qualify for the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijian, which starts in September.
Underdogs Cook Islands held out for 18 minutes before New Zealand’s Martine Puketapu opened the scoring, and three further goals in the next eleven minutes sealed the victory before half-time. The Cook Islands started the second half in more determined fashion, and it took their more illustrious opponents until the 65th minute to score their fifth goal. After that, the Islands’ brief revival was ended and the floodgates opened once more as New Zealand scored twice in the space of five minutes.
The 7-0 final scoreline suggests that, as expected, New Zealand are the tournament favourites. Their dominance in the Oceania region regularly sees their opponents on the end of humiliating defeats, with the All Whites even handing out double-figure thrashings against some of the confederation’s weaker teams.
Elsewhere, Papua New Guinea’s U-17 ladies earned a deserved 1-0 win over New Caledonia thanks to Georgina Kaikas’ impressive 18th minute strike from a corner. A constant threat, Kaikas should have opened the scoring after just eight minutes – after dispossessing New Caledonia goalkeeper Deborah Selefen and holding off the attentions of defender Priscilla Gohoupe, she somehow managed to miss the gaping goal from inside the penalty area.
The dismissal of New Caledonia captain Wakalane Ngaiohni just eight minutes into the second half ended her side’s slim chances of rescuing a point, and the skipper will be suspended for their next game. New Caledonia coach Kamalie Fitialata will have a job on his hands if he is to mould his team into serious Championship contenders.
But for wasteful finishing, including multiple one-on-one chances, Papua New Guinea would have won by a larger margin. New Caledonia’s poor performance will leave them fearing a hammering in their clash with New Zealand in Auckland tomorrow – don’t be surprised if the game ends with New Zealand having reached double figures.