New Zealand heading for semi-finals at OFC U-16 Women’s Championship

posted in: News, OFC news

New Zealand have qualified for the semi-finals at the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship in Tahiti after a 4-1 win against Fiji in their second Group B match at the Stade Pater in Tahiti.

Both sides had recorded resounding victories over the Cook Islands and Vanuatu, respectively, in their opening group matches, suggesting this would be a more competitive match.

And while New Zealand had the lion’s share of possession in the opening quarter and created the better chances, Fiji were dangerous on the counter and Caroline Qalivere and Shania Singh were able to get in behind the New Zealand defence on a couple of occasions.

Main photo:  Player of the Match was New Zealand’s Pia Vlok. Photo credit: OFC / Christophe Fotozz, Tahiti.

Laura Bennett opened the scoring for New Zealand. Photo credit: OFC / Christophe Fotozz, Tahiti.

The breakthrough for New Zealand came in the 27th minute when Pia Vlok played a lovely through ball for Laura Bennett to run onto and outsprint the defence and fire to the left of Rosalain Sarahphina in the Fiji goal.

A minute later, New Zealand almost doubled their lead when Natalie Young fired an audacious shot from wide out against the crossbar.

Fiji continued to threaten, and the likes of Singh and Sisilia Kuladina didn’t allow the Kiwi defence to get comfortable.

Bennett had a couple more chances before New Zealand added a second goal five minutes from half-time when from a free kick floated in by Vlok, Sarahphina fumbled, allowing Ella Jerez to tap in.

New Zealand’s Ella Jerez scored with a simple tap-in. Photo credit: OFC / Christophe Fotozz, Tahiti.

After Kuladina had an early chance for Fiji hitting her left foot shot just wide of the post in the second half, New Zealand put the game to bed.

First, Natalie Young beat Sarahphina at the near post with a powerful right foot shot before two minutes later, Young was pushed in the box, and Vlok slotted the resulting penalty.

Fiji breathed some life into the contest 16 minutes from full time when Caroline Qalivere smashed the loose ball into the back of a net following a free kick outside the New Zealand penalty box.

Fiji had another chance to narrow the gap six minutes from time, but Elesi Tabunase sliced the ball wide.

For New Zealand, Player of the Match Pia Vlok and Amber de Wit were dominant forces in midfield while Fijian goalkeeper Rosalain Sarahphina made some telling saves to keep the scoreline from blowing out in the second half.

Acknowledgement: Match report provided by OFC Media.

Watch the match


Games played on Monday September 18, 2023

New Zealand 4 (Laura Bennett 27’, Ella Jerez 40′, Natalie Young 50’, Pia Vlok 52’ pen)
Fiji 1 (Caroline Qalivere 74′)

Vanuatu 1 (Philles Moses 71’ pen)
Cook Islands 2 (Abrihana Enoka 35’, Anna Kamikamica 68’ )

Group A

Group B


Games to be played on Thursday September 21, 2023 (NZT)

New Zealand v Vanuatu
Stade Pater, Papeete, 2pm (NZT)

Cook Islands v Fiji
Stade Pater, Papeete, 5pm (NZT)

New Zealand squad

Putri Ardana (Auckland United)
Laura Bennett (Melville United)
Mackenzie Bryant (Wellington Phoenix Academy)
Sophie Campbell (Palmerston North Marist)
Isla Cleall-Harding (Taradale AFC)
Amber De Wit (Nomads United)
Charli Dunn (Western Springs)
Alyssha Eglinton (Wellington Phoenix Academy)
Emily Humphrey (Wellington Phoenix Academy)
Ela Jerez (Western Springs)

Kara McGillivray (Auckland United)
Kyra Morgan (Western Suburbs)
Brooke Neary (Wellington Phoenix Academy)
Angela Pivac (Wellington Phoenix Academy)
Katie Pugh (Nelson Suburbs)
Holly Robins (Wellington Phoenix Academy)
Hannah Saxon (Eastern Suburbs)
Pia Vlok (Auckland United)
Natalie Young (Hamilton Wanderers)

Tournament details

READ MORE: Draw and tournament format for OFC U-16 Women’s Championship >>>>

More football stories