Football Ferns head coach Jitka Klimková says a key factor for her team’s progress at the OFC Women’s Olympic Qualifier tournament is keeping her players fresh.
“We know we will have more games. Our plan is really to manage the loadings so players are fresh,” she said after the Ferns’ 6-0 win against hosts Samoa in hot and humid conditions.
Main photo: Coach Jitka Klimková … wanting to keep players fresh.
New Zealand built a 4-0 first-half lead, taking the initiative early, as they did with early goals in their 3-0 group win against Tonga.
“We want to always start strong and we know that we still have games to play, so sometimes it’s just smart to keep the ball moving. And that’s what we did today, just to save our energy for the next one.”
New Zealand play Vanuatu in Tuesday’s final game in Group B but are already assured of a semi-final berth at the tournament, which decides who will represent Oceania at the Paris Olympics in July.
Klimková said she and her support staff will weigh selection options for the Vanuatu game, taking into account player loadings.
“We will be looking at the physical data, thinking about do we have to make some changes for our plan against Vanuatu because we already were talking about those potential ways how we can manage players,” she said.
“So that’s what we keep doing and we know we want to really be fresh for for semi -finals and for the finals.”
Meanwhile, Player of the Match against Samoa was midfielder Kate Taylor.
In her post-match interview, she said the team had wanted to string more passes together and be better in the final third.
“Looking at the score, we definitely did that but we do have a way to go still,” she said.
Wellington Phoenix midfielder Taylor said she was enjoying the experience of playing with different people.
Asked about her goal, her first for the full national team, she said: “I scored with my knee but it all counts.”
Games played on Saturday February 10, 2024
Vanuatu 1 (Elina Aruvuha 6’)
Tonga 2 (Sachi Swift 9’ Telusila Vunipola 15’)
New Zealand 6 (Jacqui Hand 9′, Kate Taylor 16′, own goal 22′, Macey Fraser 34′, Ally Green 60′, Michaela Foster 74′)