Football Ferns - OFC Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament (Samoa)

Legend
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Ferns play Tonga first up on Wednesday. OFC's media person, trying to spin as best he or she can.

16-year-old Tama’a Faletau might be on the radar of Weenix's Academy. She shone at the OFC U17 girls tourney for Tonga.

https://www.oceaniafootball.com/womens-olympic-football-tournament-preview-tonga/

Led by the TFA Chief of Football as coach, Kilifi Uele, and bolstered by a roster of skilled players, team Tonga exudes confidence as they embark on this monumental journey. From the training grounds of Loto-Tonga Soccer Centre to the lush fields of Samoa, the team has honed their skills and fine-tuned their strategies in preparation for the challenges that lie ahead.

https://www.oceaniafootball.com/ofc-womens-olympic-football-tournament-oceania-qualifier/
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All the football fern UK contingent played for there clubs overnight. So won't be in Samoa till just before this game.

I wonder if that is why Temple maybe subbed Longo off early for the Nix last night. As she is maybe expected to play again on Wednesday.
Legend
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Liz Anton (Glory) & Ruby Nathan (Canberra) are only playing the first game. As a reminder here is the Ferns squad. Two uncapped players in Edwards and Fraser. 

Edwards likely to be capped then against Tonga, with Esson & Leat arriving late. It will be a very quiet debut! Unlikely to have to make a save. Edwards might now be the 3rd choice GK. Erin Nayler these days is backup to the backup at Bayern Munich, more of an 'injury joker'. Her days in the Ferns maybe done, which will please a few.


OFC Women’s Olympic Qualifier – Group B games  

Game 1:
7 February KO 1pm
Ford Football Ferns v Tonga
Football Federation Samoa Stadium, Apia, Samoa

Game 2:
10 February KO 5pm
Ford Football Ferns v Samoa
Football Federation Samoa Stadium, Apia, Samoa

Game 3:
13 February KO 4pm
Vanuatu v Ford Football Ferns
Football Federation Samoa Stadium, Apia, Samoa
Legend
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They move to Samoa's main stadium (Apia Park) for semis & final.

https://theniche-cache.com/football/2024/2/5/football-ferns-at-the-oceania-olympic-qualifiers-squad-yarns-amp-preview

Realistically, the Football Ferns could get by without their very best players on this tour... yet the 24-player group that Jitka Klimková has selected is surprisingly strong. Perhaps even unnecessarily strong – with only two potential debutants in the mix and both have been selected for squads before.

Take Katie Bowen for example, she’s been everpresent for Inter Milan since joining them after the World Cup (where she was arguably Aotearoa’s best performer across the three matches). Her presence in this squad means she could miss up to four club games including a second-leg cup quarter-final against Fiorentina (she actually scored an own goal in the 2-2 first leg) and a Serie A game against Juventus.

The
poor old Wellington Phoenix have six players in this squad including their entire starting midfield. They requested a postponement for their Feb 18 match against Western United but not only did that not get granted (due to venue availability and fixture congestion), the APL has instead rescheduled the men’s Nix game from that weekend so that both teams kickoff at the same time. The Nix did manage to push their Feb 11 match against Adelaide back to a later midweek, at least.

No matter what she (Klimkova) says about the relative growth/strength of the Oceania teams, the Ferns are still going to win these games by many, many goals. Last time they were in this spot was the
2018 Nations Cup. It was Tom Sermanni’s first tour in charge and they won 11-0 against Tonga, 6-0 against Cook Islands, 10-0 against Fiji, 8-0 against New Caledonia, and then 8-0 against Fiji again in the final. 43 goals scored and zero conceded.

And yeah it’s going to be very hot in Samoa at this time of year. It’s also going to be brutal for the Ferns having to play five games in the space of 13 days. At least the pitches should hold up okay since FFS Football Stadium has two fields to spread out the load during the group stages, then for the knockouts we move to Apia Park.  
Legend
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Interesting to look at OFC teams records and scorelines vs non-OFC teams:

PNG - in 2022 beat Seychelles (170) 9-0 and Singapore (137), both pretty obscure sides. Against sides we know - lost 5-1 and 9-0 to our friends the Philippines, held their own defensively in a 2-0 loss to WWC team Panama, lost 5-0 in a friendly game to Taiwan (an okay Asian team a bit worse than Philippines) which was actually in NZ. Not great results but more experience than the other sides against better teams.

Fiji - Lost 7-2 and 8-0 to the Philippines in 2022, also lost 3-0 to Australias U20 side (who NZs U20 side actually beat). 

Tonga - Concerning 16-0 and 5-0 losses to the Philippines, who seem to enjoy playing our OFC rivals.

Solomons - Lost 2-1 to the Aus U20 side in the same tournament Fiji played.

American Samoa, Samoa, Vanuatu - No games vs non-OFC teams
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PNG and Fiji should get out of Group A, question will be in what order. Solos are very much developing but okay, going off the Pacific Games, American Samoa don't stand a chance. 

Any of the three could get through with Tonga the slight underdogs and hosts Samoa will expect to get through. But I wonder how they will manage the games in a short space of time - and whether it may in fact be advantageous to rotate against us. Alternatively, particularly for Vanuatu who play us in the final group game, there's a chance our margins of victory affect who gets through wiith us. If they're already through, they'd be smart to rest their best team for the semifinal.
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That was the worst goal kick I've ever seen. Scuffed it backwards and almost in to her own net. 😆

3-0 after 20 it remains.
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3-0 and totally cruising, you'd hope other teams provide a bit more of a test than Tonga. 

Could even have been more, you get the feeling the lino is giving Tonga the benefit of the doubt with all those offsides against us
Legend
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Not surprisingly a pretty 2nd string looking lineup, for the first game.



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Been looking a bit toothless going forward against a team parking the bus. 

These are the kinds of games we need players building up their confidence in the box and in front of goal.
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Halftime - NZ 3 Tonga 0
Goals to Jale (2) & Green (pen)

Ferns starting eleven - Edwards (gk), Bunge, Stott (c), Barry, Collins, Anton, Cleverley, Nathan, Fraser, Green & Jale. 
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Aand the stream cut out
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lthomas20
Aand the stream cut out



Still better than watching Jitka-ball.

How many years does she have left?
Legend
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still 3-0 at 90 and they have a drinks break???
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YoungHeartHM
lthomas20
Aand the stream cut out



Still better than watching Jitka-ball.

How many years does she have left?
Wish the stream cutting out lasted longer! 

Must find alternative things to do Saturday evening to avoid watching this team
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Fulltime 3-0 to New Zealand.

Possession & Territory 2nd half - around 90% NZ
Finishing on goal -> not so good
Legend
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Only watched snippets. From what I saw a fair amount of walking against an opponent that parked the bus. Ferns treating it like a glorified training run?  Not surprising if so, with team only just arriving in Samoa and with 5 games in 12 days. Surface looked a bit bumpy. Samoa next will be a tougher game, though read Paul Ifill may no longer be Samoa's coach.

Cruise through the pool (day games in the sun), no injuries, and hopefully a bit more of a show for semi & final played at Apia Park with luck under lights when it's a bit cooler. Even the Tongans were taking on the fluids & wet towels at breaks.

Fiji bet American Samoa 7-0 in the other pool.
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Training run is generous frankly. 

Samoas coach these days is Juan Chang, Coastal Spirit head coach. Interesting to note their last game against Tonga was also a win by 3 goals... perhaps a sign that improvement is needed for us ahead of Saturday. 
Legend
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You'd think it will be a more experienced, stronger XI next game. 
In will come Esson or Leat, Bowen, Foster, Hassett, Longo, I-P Riley, Hand, Wilkinson among others. 
Legend
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Praise for Fraser. For the frequent clamour for Jale to upsurp Wilkinson, Jale's scoring history for the Ferns is poor.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/350153038/football-ferns-unimpressive-opening-oceania-olympic-win

In 36 previous games against current Oceania confederation countries since 1983, they had scored 331 goals while conceding just four. They average 9 goals a game against Oceania opponents.

New Zealand had won 16-0 and 11-0 in their last two games against Tonga, in 2014 and 2018. The Apia effort was the Ferns’ lowest score against an Oceania side since a 3-0 win over Papua New Guinea in 2014.

Admittedly, conditions were sapping, with 80% humidity, and Tonga had bolstered their team with North American-born players of Tongan heritage.
But, while Tonga’s defensive determination had to be admired, the Ferns - who had scored just six goals in their previous 20 A-internationals since September 2022 - still sorely lack a killer touch in front of goal.

Ferns coach Jitka Klimková was without some senior players, with some still arriving in Apia on matchday from club assignments. She handed Fraser and Phoenix goalkeeper Brianna Edwards their first caps and starts.

Edwards could have sunk into a deckchair and worked on her tan in the stifling 31-degree heat as she hardly had to handle the ball.

But Fraser was often the fulcrum of the Ferns’ best moves, especially in the first spell. The 21-year-old midfielder crashed a shot against the crossbar before Grace Jale tucked home the rebound for the first goal after 90 seconds.

Fraser later drew a sharp save from Tonga keeper Madison Tenifa with a shot from 23m, and her passing precision was a feature of the first half. Her vision, at times, seemed a step ahead of her team-mates.

The Ferns - captained by veteran defender Rebekah Stott - led 3-0 after 16 minutes following two goals by Jale - her first for the Ferns in six years - sandwiched by Ally Green’s first for her country from the penalty spot.
WeeNix
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Just checked the score, assuming it would be like 20-0. 

Bit of a surprise.....reminds me of the AWs vs Cooks at North Harbour Stadium in 2001-02 ish. 
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theprof
still 3-0 at 90 and they have a drinks break???

Singapore Slings all round I think
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Legend
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Longo returns to NZ.

Legend
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In Ferns pool Tonga beat Vanuatu 2-1. Solomons 7-1 over American Samoa in other pool.

https://www.oceaniafootball.com/solomon-islands-and-tonga-keep-semi-final-hopes-alive-in-apia/
Legend
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Much stronger looking team as the European contingent come in.
Fraser keeps her spot with Longo returning home.
 


Legend
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Ferns up 3-0 after 23 mins. Hand, Taylor & an oggie. Later kick off should help them keep this up more than the first game in hotter conditions.


Legend
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Great free kick from Fraser gets her a first goal for NZ. Can see her pushing very hard for a starting spot in a full strength Ferns side. Sure it's only Samoa, with tonnes of space for her, but she's already the fulcrum of much of what the Ferns are doing in this game
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Looking much more cut-throat with greater urgency than the Tonga game. Some very nice goals Fraser especially. They've threatened a bit more than Tonga did at the other end. 

Just hope we keep the foot down second half. But yes that European contingent upping the level a lot.
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Ally green seemed quick tonight, hadn’t noticed that previously, she had a good second half. Who got player of the match?
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Unused sub
Ally green seemed quick tonight, hadn’t noticed that previously, she had a good second half. Who got player of the match?
Taylor. Finished 6-0 Ferns.
Fiji beat PNG 4-3 in the other pool. Likely means Ferns play PNG in their semi.

https://www.oceaniafootball.com/new-zealand-and-fiji-qualify-for-semi-finals-on-match-day-2-in-samoa/

Legend
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Tomorrow Ferns verus Vanuatu. Might be back to a 2nd string team, so first teamers rest up before semi final. Stream below.

https://www.plus.fifa.com/en/content/vanuatu-v-new-zealand-group-b-ofc-womens-olympic-football-tournament-2024/aa4d48db-a4ec-4179-a715-d0f440528da3?gl=au
Legend
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Bit of a surprise as Solomons finish top of the other pool, so a Ferns verus Fiji semi on Friday

https://www.oceaniafootball.com/solomon-islands-stun-fiji-to-qualify-top-for-semi-finals-from-group-a-in-apia/

Talismanic forward Ileen Pegi had been quiet in front of goal in the first two Group matches but with the Solomon Islands needing at least a draw to guarantee a semi-final spot, the forward struck a hat-trick to secure a 3-1 win over Fiji and top spot in the Group.

Fiji also progress as runner-up and will face New Zealand in the semi-finals on Friday.

The result eliminates Pacific Games champions Papua New Guinea who defeated American Samoa 9-0 in the group’s other final group match.



Legend
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Strong team named. First tourney starts for Esson, Hassett & Wilkinson.
Bowen plays but Bunge named as captain. Might be double figures this one.

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What formation? 343 or 352?

Football Ferns - OFC Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament (Samoa)

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