PREVIEW: Final hurdle looms as Football Ferns seek place at Paris Olympics

New Zealand and Solomon Islands go head-to-head on Monday to decide which nation represents Oceania at the Paris Olympics in July.

The teams play in the final of the OFC Women’s Olympic Qualifier tournament in Apia, Samoa, kicking off on Monday February 19, 2024, at 5pm (NZT).

Here’s what to look for in the final …

Contrasting styles of the teams

New Zealand have been strong starters in their four games at the tournament, and then kept control of the ball in the second half of their matches.

Of the 21 goals scored by the Football Ferns at the tournament, 16 have hit the net before the half-time whistle.

Solomon Islands have taken the opposite route in their games, ensuring they are still in the contest at half-time, and then finishing strongly.

Of their 13 goals at the tournament, seven have been scored after half-time — of which five came in the last 20 minutes.

If the Solomon Islands can contain New Zealand in the first half, it could make for an interesting contest.

New Zealand’s Rebekah Stott … set to make her 100th appearance for her country. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Stott’s milestone

Ferns defender Rebekah Stott is likely to captain the side for the game and will notch her 100th full international appearance for New Zealand.

If so, she’ll become the 13th most-capped Fern of all time, behind:

166 — Ria Percival
159 — Ali Riley
156 — Betsy Hassett
146 — Abby Erceg
133 — Annalie Longo
125 — Amber Hearn
124 — Katie Duncan (nee Hoyle)
121 — Hannah Wilkinson
111 — Rosie White
104 — Katie Bowen
104 — Kirsty Yallop
100 — Sarah Gregorius

*Thanks to for maintaining these statistics.

READ MORE: Football Ferns defender Rebekah Stott closes in on double milestone >>>>

Jitka Klimkova … ‘another opportunity to play better football.’

What the coaches say

After her team’s 7-1 semi-final win against Fiji, New Zealand head coach Jitka Klimková said:

“For us it is game number five, another opportunity for us to play better football, we know we can play good football. In this game many, many times when we were moving the ball quickly and move off each other that is something we can be more consistent in our last game.”

Solomon Islands’ head coach Betram Suri told OFC Media:

“It will be very tough, but we are here to compete and have a good final against them. We need to be prepared to work, we will have to put the work in intensively and work very, very hard to match up the intensity they (New Zealand) will bring in the final.

“Specifically attacking on the ball, wides right and left, those areas we need to look after well, and their finishing in front, defensively too, to not allow them to score.”


Game to be played on Monday February 19, 2024

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

Missing from the squad

Four players are unavailable from the original New Zealand squad selected for the tournament.

Defender Liz Anton (Perth Glory) was available only for the tournament opener against Tonga and returned to her club by prior arrangement with the Ferns management.

Wellington Phoenix midfield duo Annalie Longo (calf strain) and Macey Fraser (concussion) returned to New Zealand for treatment, while defender Grace Neville (calf strain) left the camp after the semi-final against Fiji, to get treatment for her injury at her UK club, London City Lionesses.


New Zealand

Mackenzie Barry Wellington Phoenix FC, New Zealand
Katie Bowen Inter Milan, Italy
Claudia Bunge HB Køge, Denmark
Daisy Cleverley HB Køge, Denmark
Ava Collins  St John’s University, USA
Brianna Edwards Wellington Phoenix FC, New Zealand
Victoria Esson  Rangers FC, Scotland
Michaela Foster Wellington Phoenix FC, New Zealand
Ally Green  AGF, Denmark
Jacqui Hand Lewes FC, England
Betsy Hassett  Stjarnan FC, Iceland
Grace Jale Perth Glory, Australia
Katie Kitching Sunderland AFC, England
Anna Leat Aston Villa FC, England
Ruby Nathan Canberra United, Australia
Gabi Rennie Unattached
Indiah-Paige Riley PSV Vrouwen, Netherlands
Rebekah Stott Melbourne City FC, Australia
Kate Taylor Wellington Phoenix FC, New Zealand
Hannah Wilkinson Melbourne City FC, Australia

Head coach: Jitka Klimková

Solomon Islands

Margaret Kofela
Claudia Votu
Edith Nari
Lisa Solo
Alisha Donga
Almah Gogoni
Mesalyn Saepio
Lleen Pegi
Jacklyn Ikama
Lorina Solosaia
Madeline Arukau
Joan Hanigaro
Sylvester Maenuu
Sharoly Saeni
Jemina David
Veronica Tolivaka
Rashida Mekawir
Kalinsa Fiua
Sandy Aniholland
Gertrude Oritaimae
Mary Maefit
Ivy Sade

Head coach: Batram Suri


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)

Solomon Island fans have enjoyed watching their team create history by getting to the final of the Oceania qualifiers for the first time. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

What’s at stake

New Zealand are seeking their fifth win in a row at the OFC Women’s Olympic qualifiers, having won the tournament previously in 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020.

Solomon Islands have never reached the final before.

Pathway to the final

New Zealand

Group games

New Zealand 3 (Grace Jale 2′, 16′, Ally Green 13′ pen)
Tonga 0

READ MORE: Early goals enough to see the Ferns through Olympic qualifier against Tonga >>>>

New Zealand 6 (Jacqui Hand 9′, Kate Taylor 16′, own goal 22′, Macey Fraser 34′, Ally Green 60′, Michaela Foster 74′)
Samoa 0

READ MORE: Ferns into Olympic qualifier semi-finals despite wasteful win against Samoa >>>>

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

READ MORE: Ferns cruise to big win in one-sided OFC Olympic qualifier against Vanuatu >>>>


New Zealand 7 (Indiah-Paige Riley 6′, 45+6′, Jacqui Hand 24′, 45+4′, Grace Jale 45+2′, 68′, 83′)
Fiji 1 (Cema Nasau 90+2′)

READ MORE: Ruthless Ferns move a step closer to Paris Olympics with big win against Fiji >>>>

Solomon Islands

Group games

Papua New Guinea 1 (Keren Kalapai 69’)
Solomon Islands 1 (Lorina Solosaia 30’)

Solomon Islands 7 (Lorina Solosaia 14’, 29’, 35’, 72’, 74’, Almah Gogoni 58’, Jemima David 82’)
American Samoa 1 (Lela Waetin 88’)

Solomon Islands 3 (Ileen Pegi 16’, 45+1’, 90+4′)
Fiji 1 (Narieta Leba 80’)


Solomon Islands 2 (Sandy Aniholland 65’, Ileen Pegi 78’ pen)
Samoa 0

READ MORE: Solomon Islands book place in final at OFC Women’s Olympic qualifiers >>>>

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