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New Zealand wins OFC U16 match in Group B opener against Cooks

Thursday 14 September 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Soccer, Sports


New Zealand wins OFC U16 match in Group B opener against Cooks
OFC U-16 Women’s Championship 2023, Group B, New Zealand v Cook Islands, Pater Stadium, Pirae, Tahiti, Thursday september 14 2023, photo : Christophe Fotozz, Tahiti

Cook Islands was defeated in the Group B opener of the U16 Women’s OFC Championship in its first match against New Zealand.

New Zealand opened the defence with a convincing 12-0 win over the Cook Islands.

Cook Islands Football Association (FA) had sent its National U16 Women's team to compete in the long-awaited OFC U16 Women’s Championship.

Cook Islands Football (CIFA) says that over the past weekend, Head Coach Tupou Brogan and three other officials travelled with a squad of 20 players to Tahiti in preparation for the competition. The U16 women's team began training earlier this year, practicing up to three days a week before departing for Tahiti.

As the Cook Islands U16 Women's team embarked on this thrilling journey, they undoubtedly face challenges but also enjoy a transformative experience as they represent their country in one of the region’s most significant football tournaments, says CIFA.

The championship kicked off today as Cook Islands faced New Zealand in the Group B opener in Papeete.

Cook Islands got off to the worst possible start when defender Maara Teariki headed into the back of her own net attempting to clear a cross.

According to Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Media, Laura Bennett should have made it two a minute later when the 14-year-old burst through on goal but pulled her shot across the goal and just wide.

Cook Islands keeper Vahine Uini then made a superb save do deny Angela Pivac. The New Zealanders dominated possession with Amber De Wit a constant menace in midfield. But they couldn’t quite nail the final pass on numerous occasions they were caught offside.

It took until the 26th minute for New Zealand to add to their advantage when Putri Ardana ran onto a through ball and rifled the ball into the left-hand corner of the net. Seven minutes later Angela Pivac made it three after a lovely ball from De Wit who added a fourth a minute later with a lovely strike past the advancing Uini in the Cook Islands goal.

Laura Bennett scored the fifth goal in the 39th minute with superb strike following a wonderfully timed pass from Ardana. Bennett then fired a bullet past Uini on the stroke of half-time for New Zealand’s sixth of the game.

New Zealand coach Leon Birnie made four changes at half-time with a comfortable lead. Substitute Ella Jerez almost got in on the action with a powerful strike in the 52nd minute. The Cook Islands had their best chance to get on the scoreboard in the 54th minute when Tatjiana Areai sliced her attempted shot wide of the upright.

The Cook Islands defended strongly and kept New Zealand at bay for the next 20 minutes but in the 68th minute Bennett had her hat-trick with an audacious strike into the top corner of the net from the edge of the penalty box.

Pia Vlok then delivered a peach of a ball with the outside of her foot to play in another substitute Jerez who fired past a hapless Uini. Three minutes later 14-year-old Katie Pugh got in the action to make it 9-0 before Bennett scored her fourth in the 81st minute.

Vlok finished superbly to get on the scoresheet in the 84th minute as New Zealand turned it on in the closing stages against a tired Cook Islands defence. Bennett brought up her fifth goal to complete the rout.

Cook Islands is placed in Group B alongside New Zealand, Fiji, and Vanuatu. They take on Vanuatu on Sunday 17th at 7:00 pm and their final group match will be against Fiji on Wednesday 20th at 7:00 pm.

OFC Media/ CIFA Media


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