A gritty defensive display has earned the Football Ferns a scoreless draw in the first of two games against FIFA Women’s World Cup quarter-finalists Colombia.
Despite playing at high altitude in Bogata, the Ferns finished strongly, creating chances late in the international friendly.
But New Zealand’s goalscoring woes continue, with the Ferns firing blanks for the 11th time in their 15-game schedule for 2023.
Main photo: The Ferns’ defence worked hard for their clean sheet against Colombia.
Ferns coach Jitka Klimková was forced into late changes to her starting line-up when captain Ali Riley was ruled out through injury and Grace Neville could not join the matchday squad for a medical reason.
Rebekah Stott was named captain for the match, watched by partisan home crowd at Bogata’s Estadio el Campin.
Both sides were cautious in the opening 10 minutes as they tested each other out, and the Ferns adjusted to the high-altitude setting.
Colombia created the first chance of the game when Mónica Ramos crossed for Mayra Ramirez whose shot was blocked by Stott.
In the 20th minute, Colombia’s Jorelyn Carabali headed wide when she met a curling free kick into the Ferns’ penalty area.
Desperate defence — and the crossbar — saved New Zealand in. The 37th minute when Ramirez got her thigh to a corner by Leicy Santos, and the ball flew onto the crossbar.
The rebound was struck at the Ferns’ goal but Katie Bowen and Michaela Foster combined to block and clear the danger.
Four minutes into first-half stoppage time, Colombia had the best chance of the half when Marcela Restrepo streaked down the left flank, shaking off Ferns defenders, and crossed to Leicy Santos who shot while off balance.
The ball was scrambled to safety by the Ferns to end the half.
Five minutes into the second spell, Colombian captain Daniela Montoya got a shot on target, forcing goalkeeper Anna Leat to make a good save.
Restrepo had a clear chance on the hour, shooting wide from the edge of the area.
In the 65th minute, the Ferns almost benefitted from a fluke rebound when Colombian keeper Catalina Pérez mishit a clearance and struck substitute Paige Satchell. To the relief of the home side, the ball flew out for a goal kick.
Despite the rare air, New Zealand upped the tempo with a quarter of an hour to go.
Malia Steinmetz and Jacqui Hand played a neat move that created a half-chance for Hand, but the ball spun wide.
The Ferns forced successive corners which substitute Ally Green swung in.
First, Bowen and Ava Collins got in each other’s way, and the chance was wasted, the ball flying over the bar.
In the second, Hand and Grace Jale attacked the ball, and it deflected off Jale’s chest and over the goal.
New Zealand’s substitutions were clearly making a difference with the speed of Satchell putting the Colombian defence under pressure while Cleverley was disrupting their midfield play.
In the 85th minute, Satchell darted into the box and hit a left-footed shot that was deflected for a corner.
Sunderland midfielder Katie Kitching made her New Zealand debut, off the bench to replace Jale in the 90th minute.
The sides meet again on Wednesday December 6 at 9am (NZT), behind closed doors.
Coach Jitka Klimková’s post-match reaction
Catalina Pérez, Carolina Arias (Mónica Ramos 90+2′), Daniela Arias (Viviana Acosta 46′), Jorelyn Carabalí, Manuela Vanegas, Daniela Montoya (captain) (Manuela Paví 63′), Lorena Bedoya, Leicy Santos (Gabriela Huertas 90+5′), Marcela Restrepo (Ivonne Chacón 76′), Catalina Usme, Mayra Ramírez.
Subs not used: Sandra Sepúlveda (GK), Luisa Fernanda Agudelo (GK), Ángela Barón, Daniela Caracas, Lady Andrade, Camila Reyes, Elexa Bahr.
Anna Leat, Mackenzie Barry, Katie Bowen, Michaela Foster (Ally Green 72′), Rebekah Stott (captain), Ava Collins, Betsy Hassett, Indiah-Paige Riley (Paige Satchell 61′), Malia Steinmetz (Daisy Cleverley 72′), Jacqui Hand, Grace Jale (Katie Kitching 89′).
Subs not used: Brianna Edwards, Victoria Esson, Manaia Elliott, Aniela Jensen, Ruby Nathan, Kate Taylor, Marisa Van Der Meer.
Watch match replay
Game played on Sunday December 3, 2023
New Zealand 0
Game to be played on Wednesday December 6, 2023
Colombia v New Zealand
Estadio Metropolitano de Techo, Bogotá, Colombia, 9am (NZT)