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Where the bloody hell are ya?

New Zealand U20 12, Vanuatu U20 0
Centre Park, Auckland, February 18 2014

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What if I told you there is an international football tournament on right now, on your doorstep if you happen to live in Auckland, and the winner of this tournament goes to the WORLD CUP, and it’s free to attend? What would you say to that? Yes, you heard me correctly – FREE! Gratis,  complimentary, on the house, without charge, you can just waltz in and nobody will stop you. Can you believe that? So why weren’t you there? Put off by the certainty of a maddening crowd and the inability to move for the throngs of humanity crushing through the gates? Understandable. This is the sort of thing that usually fills the Cake Tin in Wellington, right? It’s happened before a couple of times.

But here’s the thing. Get this – there were only… I can’t even believe this myself, but it’s true, I was there… there were, trust me, only a few hundred people there today!! You could have gone! You would have loved it, and New Zealand even racked up a rugby league score to boot!

But don’t beat yourself up too much, because it’s not too late! There are two more days of this thing left for you to rectify your egregious oversight.

In case you haven’t already worked it out, Centre Park in Mangere is hosting the Oceania qualifying tournament for the 2014 Under 20 Women’s World Cup in Canada at the moment. Today saw Papua New Guinea beat Tonga 4-0 at 1pm and the mighty Junior Football Ferns demolish Vanuatu 12-0 at the more civilised 4pm kick-off time slot. I couldn’t make the earlier game because sadly I have to work for a living until either ESPN buys this website for $100 million or someone else pays me to watch football and write rubbish (not holding my breath), but I did manage to wag work a little early today and get to the game featuring the local side.

What to say about the game… Well, the main point is it could have been more than twelve. It should have been more than twelve. As good as the score line suggests the Junior Ferns were, they still looked a wee bit rough around the edges at times and plenty of easy shots went unconverted. Vanuatu tried hard but the gap in quality was significant. Goals to Emma Rolston (4), Martine Puketapu (3), Briar Palmer (2), Lauren Dabner, Jasmine Pereira, and Tayla O’Brien saw the favourites to win the tournament and the World Cup berth justify that favouritism and then some, sending a message to the other two sides in this competition that they mean business.

Obviously I didn’t see the other game so I can’t comment on whether or not those teams will give the Junior Ferns a stiffer contest, but I can say this: with the weather so lovely and warm and sunny at the moment and did I mention it’s international football and it’s free? Come and watch some to find out for yourself. The two remaining match days are:

Thursday 20 Feb
1pm: Papua New Guinea v Vanuatu
4pm: Tonga v New Zealand

Saturday 22 Feb
1pm: Vanuatu v Tonga
4pm: New Zealand v Papua New Guinea

Why wouldn’t you get in amongst it and watch New Zealand qualify for a World Cup? Especially considering the chances are it’s probably been a while since you’ve seen that happen…

Categories: Football Ferns

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

5 replies

  1. I think your question, “Where are Ya,” should be applied to the other Oceania countries who are not attending this tournament. Where are, New Caledonia, Tahiti, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Samoa, American Samoa, Cook Islands? Massive amounts of resources have been pumped into development programs in these countries, but none of them have showed up. This tournament should be a ‘Festival of Football’ for young South Pacific females and a chance for Oceania to establish that it’s Women’s football development programs are working in the Island nations: we know that they are in NZ….

  2. Good point Maurice, where does the buck stop for the fact there are only four teams participating? Is it the format or are the Oceania member nations simply not expending resources on the women’s game?

  3. I’d say “I’m at work”. That’s what I’d say. I’d love to have gone along and watched, but afternoon kick-offs killed that idea.

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