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Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!

New Zealand U20 0, Australia U20 4
Kiwitea Street, Auckland, July 27 2013

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Bah! Playing Australia so very rarely ends well, no matter what the sport. It’s like we have this big brother little brother complex where they have the psychological edge over us most of the time. So much of our national self-esteem is tied up in comparing ourselves to them and trying desperately hard to measure up. They, on the other hand, have much bigger fish to fry so when we meet on the sporting field there is always much more pressure on us, whereas they simply expect to win and more often than not do. That’s why I must admit I did a double take when I heard that we had got one over our ‘cousies from across the ditch’ in game one (played behind closed doors) of this three game under 20 international trans-Tasman series.

Women’s football is one sport in which we should expect to do well against the Aussies though. Our FIFA ranking for the senior Football Ferns is at a very impressive 19th in the world currently, and while the Matildas are still 9 places ahead of us in 10th, we have been consistently matching it with teams ranked ahead of us for quite some time now. Expectations were therefore quite high for game two, at Auckland’s premier boutique football venue that is Kiwitea Street. Sadly though, the Junior Football Ferns couldn’t produce the football to match the hype.

It was a comprehensive whoopin’ from woe to go. The Young Matildas took an early lead after the Ferns lost possession in their own half which led to a bullet shot spilled by keeper Alfeld only as far as Melissa Caceras who said thank you very much and gobbled up an easy tap-in. Things then went from bad to worse when Kiwi defender Laura Merrin chipped the keeper to score a beautiful long-range goal – in her own net. You had to feel for her, the proverbial happens in football, but the hurt was written all over her face for the rest of the match.

The early two goal cushion for the visitors wasn’t terribly insurmountable in theory. After all, the Ferns had managed two against them only a couple of days prior, even if the scorer of both those goals, Megan Lee, wasn’t on the pitch for the majority of the game. But in reality, apart from a few decent incisions from second half substitutes Lee and Jasmine Pereira, the Ferns didn’t look particularly threatening the whole game. The early onslaught from the Aussies seemed to knock the stuffing out of them while the Young Matildas looked reasonably happy to coast along to a certain extent. This, unfortunately for the 900 odd in attendance, made for a rather dull game.

Australia’s third and fourth came in the 61st minute and injury time respectively through Tara Andrews and Alycia Bass. Ho hum.

I can’t go to game three at Seddon Fields at 2:30pm tomorrow because I have to fuel my football obsession with money from a real job. This is obviously a great pity because it sucks to have to leave the story here. The Junior Football Ferns can, and I’m sure will, give a much better account of themselves in the series decider.

Categories: Football Ferns

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/

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