Ferns cruise to big win in one-sided OFC Olympic qualifier against Vanuatu

Another fast start was the key to New Zealand’s routine 5-0 win against Vanuatu, a result that ensured the Ferns finished top of their group at the OFC Women’s Olympic Qualifier tournament in Samoa.

Goals from Jacqui Hand, Betsy Hassett and Indiah-Paige Riley in the opening half-hour put the result beyond doubt, and only the final margin was left to decide.

Playing in 88% humidity at pitch level after morning rain, the Ferns moved the ball around in the game’s early stages, conserving their energy and forcing Vanuatu to chase them.

Hand opened the scoring in the 12th minute, settling the side down and getting the Ferns off to their third fast start in successive group games.

By the 20th minute, New Zealand were asserting themselves, stroking the ball around with ease and looking to break down the stacked Vanuatu defence.

Winger Riley beat a couple of defenders and pulled back a well-weighted ball for midfielder Hassett to rifle home, her 16th career goal for New Zealand.

Hand rattled the crossbar with a long-range shot midway through the half.

In the 31st minute, Riley broke through on the right and her shot was too much for goalkeeper Amelia Ready who deflected it into the net. It was Riley’s first goal for New Zealand.

New Zealand should have gone four goals clear when Hassett was given a free header with the goal open, but she sent it wide.

Riley’s second goal made up for the miss, with the Brisbane Roar forward striking from 25 metres, her shot going over the line off the underneath of the crossbar.

Head coach Jitka Klimková replaced two of her goalscorers at half-time, bringing Macey Fraser and Katie Kitching into the midfield, and resting Hassett and Riley.

Fraser scored within six minutes of the restart, neatly steering a shot from just inside the area into the goal.

The second half deteriorated in terms of fluent play as injury stoppages and drink breaks disrupted New Zealand’s efforts to force Vanuatu to capitulate.

Substitute Gabi Rennie caused Vanuatu plenty of problems down the right wing, forcing defenders to bring her down in clumsy tackles.

In stoppage time, Fraser was clattered, causing concern for the medical staff who helped her off the pitch.

The injury was enough to remind the New Zealanders to see out the game without further incident and they were content to run down the clock for their win.

The result means New Zealand face Fiji in the semi-final of the tournament, at 5pm (NZT) on Friday.

The other semi-final, between Solomon Islands and Samoa, will be played at 1pm (NZT).

Player of the Match

The Player of the Match was awarded to New Zealand captain Claudia Bunge.


Games played on Tuesday February 13, 2024

Group B

Vanuatu 0
New Zealand 5 (Jacqui Hand 12′,  Betsy Hassett 21′, Indiah-Paige Riley 31′, 43′, Macey Fraser 51′)

Tonga 0
Samoa 2 (Monique Fischer 37′, Jayda Stewart 80′)

Final positions in Group B


Vanuatu’s starting line-up.


Amelia Ready, Jesta Toka, Nelly Kaltack (Leimata Simon 52′, Rebina Woka 72′), Limas Erikan, Jane Alatoa (Anna Lop 72′), Rita Solomon, Fevie Rina Siehi, Diana Sine, Paulieana Manwo, Elma Avj (captain), Elina Aruvuha (Angelina Poida 72′)

Subs not used: Rolingzel Worek (GK), Netty Kalsau (GK), Nellie Vuti, Valerie Viralolokwai, Noeline Erikan, Noella Metoriki.

Head coach: Jean Robert Yelou


Yellow: Sine 84′

The New Zealand squad try to keep cool in the hot and humid conditions.

New Zealand

Victoria Esson, Claudia Bunge (captain), Mackenzie Barry, Daisy Cleverley, Ally Green (Michaela Foster 73′), Betsy Hassett (Macey Fraser 46′), Katie Bowen, Jacqui Hand (Ruby Nathan 65′), Hannah Wilkinson (Gabi Rennie 65′), Ava Collins, Indiah-Paige Riley (Katie Kitching 46′).

Subs not used: Anna Leat (GK), Brianna Edwards (GK), Kate Taylor, Rebekah Stott, Grace Neville, Grace Jale.

Head coach: Jitka Klimková.


Referee: Kavitesh Behari (Fiji)
Assistant referees: Avinesh Narayan (Fiji), Vaihina Teura  (Tahiti)
Fourth official: Torika Delai (Fiji)
Fifth official: Jeffery Solodia (Solomon Islands)
Referee assessor: Tevita Vea (Tonga)
Match commissioner: Amitesh Pal (Fiji)


Games to be played on Friday February 16, 2024


Solomon Islands v Samoa
FFS Football Stadium, Apia, 1pm (NZT)

New Zealand v Fiji
FFS Football Stadium, Apia, 5pm (NZT)

Game to be played on Monday February 19, 2024


Winner semi-final 1 v winner semi-final 2
FFS Football Stadium, Apia, 5pm (NZT)

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