VIDEO: U-16s’ coach Leon Birnie: ‘Why I rotate players and the captaincy’

New Zealand coach Leon Birnie has explained his approach to rotating his players and the captaincy at the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship.

“Number one, we want to quality (for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup), so I put teams out there that I think can get the job done,” he said after his side beat Tonga 7-0 to reach the final of the tournament in Tahiti.

“But number two, I want all the players to have the opportunity to go and perform on the international stage and the that experience.”

With the captaincy, he said he had seen a number of players showing good leadership qualities.

“That’s why we’ve been rotating it to give them a chance to lead and so far, they’ve done it really well.”

Of the win against, Tonga, Birnie said:

“I thought first half we created enough opportunities to go into the sheds at halftime a few more up than we did.

“Credit to Tonga — they made it hard for us.

“There were some areas that we need to tidy up, and the girls are aware of that. We need to tidy those up if we want to make sure we can go and get a result against Fiji.”

Birnie said New Zealand’s game against Fiji in the group stage was “scrappy” and their opponents were “hard to work out, at times.”

“Sometimes they’re structured, sometimes they’re not.

“They’re very physical so, for us, I think if we can get the ball down and play, that’s our game and try and take the bounce out of the game and get it on the deck, and that’s what we’ll be aiming to do.”

READ MORE: New Zealand to face Fiji in final at OFC U-16 Women’s Championship >>>>

VIDEO: Highlights from New Zealand’s 7-0 semi-final win against Tonga >>>>

Watch Leon Birnie’s interview


Game played on Sunday September 24, 2023 (NZT)

New Zealand 7 (Angela Pivac 8′, Katie Pugh 35′, Pia Vlok 49′ pen, Ela Jerez 53′, Laura Bennett 54′, 59′, Amber de Wit 71′)
Tonga 0

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 schedule

Games to be played on Monday September 25, 2023

Due to adverse weather conditions, the play-off for 7th place and play-off for 5th place at the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship 2023 will now be played at the Fédération Tahitienne de Football Academy in Papeete.

The kick-off times have been changed, and neither game will be live-streamed by OFC.

Play-off for 7th place (12pm NZT)

Solomon Islands v Vanuatu

Play-off for 5th place (4pm NZT)

New Caledonia v Cook Islands

Games to be played on Wednesday September 27, 2023

The play-off for third and final is still scheduled for the Stade Pater.

Play-off for 3rd place (3pm NZT)

Tahiti v Tonga

Final (6pm NZT)

New Zealand v Fiji

More football stories