Football Ferns start two-match series with 4-0 win against Thailand

The Football Ferns have started their two-match series against Thailand with a solid 4-0 win in Christchurch.

Coach Jitka Klimková’s squad initially found goals difficult to come by in their first match on home soil since the FIFA Women’s World Cup, but delivered the fans a flurry of late goals as the Thai defence wilted under the relentless New Zealand pressure.

Main photo: New Zealand celebrate a goal from substitute Katie Kitching.Photo credit: Natural Light Photography Company.

In the pre-match press conference, Klimková was adamant this series was not the time to bleed new players, and she fielded her strongest XI, which included five changes from the team that won the final of the Olympic qualifying tournament in Samoa.

CJ Bott and Ali Riley returned at fullback in place of Mackenzie Barry and Ally Green, Malia Steinmetz replaced the injured Kate Taylor, Macey Fraser started in place of the pregnant Betsy Hassett and Anna Leat was preferred in goal ahead of Vic Esson.

Christchurch turned on a stunning day and more than 6,000 fans came to see the footballers who had become household names during the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The big crowd was a nice reward after the Football Ferns made a big effort during the week, warming up the local football community with school visits, open training sessions and clinics for young footballers at English Park.

With Thailand ranked 14 places below New Zealand, and conceding 20 goals in their three recent Olympic qualifying matches, it was not surprising to see the Ferns quickly putting the visitors under pressure.

Despite an attack-minded line-up, the Football Ferns initially failed to turn an overwhelming amount of possesion into clear-cut chances.

Fraser came close to scoring on her Canterbury home turf in the early minutes but stabbed the ball wide.

Hannah Wilkinson scores New Zealand’s opening goal. Photo credit: Natural Light Photography Company.

Just when the fans started to wonder where the goals would come from, a brilliant through-ball by Indiah Paige-Riley in the 17th minute allowed Hannah Wilkinson to calmly slot home her 32nd international goal.

Fans expecting the floodgates to open were left wanting, as the predictable aerial route failed to deliver more goals.

Targeting the substantial height advantage over the Thai defence seemed logical, but the Ferns were consistently frustrated by some nuggety defending and brave goalkeeping from Tiffany Sornpao.

Klimková is on a mission to install a more technical passing style to leverage the incredible technical ability of the new generation, but for much of the match the Ferns continued to fall back on a gameplan around Wilkinson that New Zealand fans have become familiar with over the past decade.

There were plenty of mouthwatering glimpses of the talent on display, but finding more efficiency in front of goal remains a major challenge for the national coach.

One of the brightest moments produced the second New Zealand goal, set up by a beautiful dummy by Jacqui Hand.

The move created space for substitute Katie Kitching to claim a goal assist with her first touch, which Hand converted well.

New Zealand put the Thailand defence under constant pressure in the second half. Photo credit: Natural Light Photography Company.

New Zealand’s goalscoring dilemma was summed up shortly after when Kitching first missed a tap-in set up by Wilkinson, but two minutes later redeemed herself by finishing a difficult opportunity for the Ferns’ third goal.

The Sunderland striker then added her second goal from the penalty spot after CJ Bott was slightly impeded by a tired-looking Thai challenge to lift the final score to 4-0.

The Football Ferns were far from convincing, but the Christchurch crowd left happy after seeing their heroes score more goals on home soil in one game than 10 previous home matches combined.

Klimková will be pleased with the scoreline and will be grateful her charges have a second opportunity on Tuesday to build on their performance, be more ruthless in front of goal and potentially claim the Football Ferns’ 100th international victory.

WATCH: Ferns head coach Jitka Klimková’s post-match interview >>>>

WATCH: Highlights from Football Ferns 4-0 win against Thailand >>>>

Match stats

First half 

New Zealand / Thailand

Shots: 7 / 0
Shots on target: 4 / 0
Possession: 64% / 36%
Passes: 293 / 170
Pass accuracy: 82% / 73%
Fouls: 6 / 3
Yellow cards: 0 / 1
Red cards: 0 / 0
Offsides: 2 / 0
Corners: 2 / 0

Full game

New Zealand / Thailand

Shots: 17 / 0
Shots on target: 11 / 0
Possession: 63% / 37%
Passes: 536 / 326
Pass accuracy: 83% / 75%
Fouls: 12 / 8
Yellow cards: 0 / 1
Red cards: 0 / 0
Offsides: 6 / 0
Corners: 5 / 0


Game played on Saturday, April 6, 2024

New Zealand 4 (Hannah Wilkinson 17′, Jacqui Hand 64′, Katie Kitching 71′, 87′ pen)
Thailand 0


New Zealand’s starting line-up. Photo credit: Natural Light Photography Company.

New Zealand

Anna Leat, CJ Bott, Katie Bowen, Ali Riley (captain) (Mackenzie Barry 82′), Rebekah Stott (Claudia Bunge 62′), Macey Fraser, Indiah-Paige Riley (Katie Kitching 62′), Malia Steinmetz (Daisy Cleverley 82′), Jacqui Hand (Gabi Rennie 77′), Grace Jale (Paige Satchell 77′), Hannah Wilkinson

Subs not used: Victoria Esson, Ally Green, Meikayla Moore, Aimee Feinberg-Danieli, Ruby Nathan, Emma Pijnenburg

Coach: Jitka Klimková




Tiffany Darunee Sonphao, Kanchanaporn Saenkhun, Supaporn Inthaprasit, Pornphirun Pilawan (Fasawang Kaetkeaw 84′), Phattharanan Upachai (Pichayatida Manowang 74′), Nipawan Panyosuk (captain) (Pluemjai Sontisawat 33′), Chatchawan Rodthong, Nutwadee Pramnak (Nuananong Muensri 74′), Saowalak Pengngam (Jiraporn Mongkoldee 46′), Janista Jinanthuya (Achiraya Yingsakul 74′), Orawan Kirisuwannakul

Subs not used: Thanchanok Cheunarom, Parichat Thongrong, Pawarisa Homyamyen

Coach: Naruephon Kaenson


Yellow: Pengngam (39′)


Referee: Casey Reibelt (Australia)


Game to be played on Tuesday April 9, 2024

New Zealand v Thailand
Apollo Projects Stadium, Christchurch, 7pm

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