Football Ferns crush Solomon Islands 11-1 to qualify for Paris Olympics

New Zealand’s Football Ferns will represent Oceania at the Paris Olympics after beating Solomon Islands 11-1 in the final of the OFC Women’s Olympic qualifiers.

Victory means New Zealand will go to the Summer Olympics for the fifth time after a tournament in which their five wins produced 32 goals, while conceding only two.

Captained by Rebekah Stott in her 100th international, the Ferns delivered their best performance at the eight-nation tournament in Samoa, taking charge in the first half when they built a 5-0 lead.

In the second half, they put their foot further on the team’s accelerator, ruthlessly crushing their opponents.

Main photo: New Zealand’s Grace Jale scores her first-half goal.

It was a tough day in goal for Solomon Islands ‘keeper Margaret Kofela.

New Zealand continued their habit of scoring early when Jacqui Hand put the Ferns ahead in the 12th minute, marking her 25th birthday with her seventh international goal.

Good work by Indiah-Paige Riley and Hannah Wilkinson created the opening for Hand to nip into the box and hook the ball into the roof of the net.

In the 20th minute, Betsy Hassett, Grace Jale and Riley combined to provide the chance for Wilkinson to turn and shoot into the far corner of the goal.

Five minutes later, a delighted Katie Bowen scored a rare international goal — her fourth in 105 appearances — to make it 3-0.

The Ferns were stroking the ball along their backline when Bowen decided to push forward, pushing the ball wide before volleying the return pass into the net.

Jale made it 4-0 in the 37th minute when she bundled a cross from Hand into the net.

Hassett fired a searing shot against the crossbar as the interval approached.

Riley, who had been dangerous every time she got the ball, added her side’s fifth goal in first-half stoppage time. Her right-footed shot was blocked; she struck the rebound with her left boot, sending it inside the far post.

The damage was done by half-time, with New Zealand leading 5-0.

In the second half, Riley added her second goal with a well-struck shot from the edge of the area.

New Zealand were coasting, six goals to the good, and then suffered a bout of over-confidence.

A rare Solomon Islands foray into the New Zealand half looked likely to be mopped up, as Ferns goalkeeper Vic Esson looked to pass the ball out of trouble.

Instead, she ran out of space and ball rolled into the path of substitute Jemina David who steered the ball into the empty New Zealand net.

The Ferns bounced back almost immediately with Wilkinson steering a far post header into the net for her second of the match.

Another header, from Jale, extended the lead to 8-1 just after the hour.

Coach Jitka Klimková brought on four substitutes in the 66th minute to keep up the pressure.

Within a few minutes, substitute Katie Kitching scored her first goal for the Ferns with a well-taken shot from just inside the penalty area.

Kitching scored another six minutes later, sending the Ferns’ tally into double figures.

In the 87th minute, Kitching was denied a hat-trick when ‘keeper Kofela parried her shot. The ball rebounded to Jale who struck the post, preventing her second hat-trick of the tournament..

With normal time almost gone, substitute Ruby Nathan scored her first full international goal to make it 11-1.

In stoppage time, goalkeeper Kofela made a series of excellent saves, denying Jale and Riley (twice) to prevent further humiliation on the scoreboard.

Player of the Match

The Player of the Match award went to New Zealand’s Indiah-Paige Riley.


Game played on Monday February 19, 2024

New Zealand 11 (Jacqui Hand 12′, Hannah Wilkinson 20′, 56′, Katie Bowen 25′, Grace Jale 37′, 62′, Indiah-Paige Riley 45+1′, 52′, Katie Kitching 70′, 76′, Ruby Nathan 89′)
Solomon Islands 1 (Jemina David 55′)


New Zealand’s starting line-up for the final.

New Zealand

Vic Esson, Mackenzie Barry, Katie Bowen, Ally Green (Michaela Foster 66′), Rebekah Stott (captain) (Claudia Bunge 82′), Betsy Hassett (Katie Kitching 66′), Kate Taylor (Daisy Cleverley 66′), Indiah-Paige Riley, Jacqui Hand, Grace Jale, Hannah Wilkinson (Ruby Nathan 66′).

Subs not used: Brianna Edwards (GK), Anna Leat (GK), Ava Collins, Gabi Rennie.

Head coach: Jitka Klimková

Solomon Islands’ starting line-up for the final.

Solomon Islands

Margaret Kofela, Sharoly Saeni, Edith Nar, Lisa Solo, Alisha Donga (Kalinsa Fiua 65′), Almah Gogon, Mesalyn Saepio (Jemina David 30′), Lleen Pegi (captain) (Gertrude Oritaimae), Jacklyn Ikama, Sandy Aniholland, Lorina Solosaia (Ivy Sade 65′).

Subs not used: Joan Hanigaro, Sylvester Maenuu, Claudia Votu, Veronica Tolivaka, Rashida Mekawi, Mary Maefiti, Bridget Alele.

Head coach: Juan Chang Urrea


Referee: Norbert Hauata (Tahiti)
Assistant referees: Vahina Teura (Tahiti) and Lata Kaumatule (Tonga)
Fourth official: Mederic Lacour (New Caledonia)
Fifth official: Jeremy Garae (Vanuatu)
Referee assessor: Jimmy Warai (Papua New Guinea)

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