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Game three

New Zealand Under 20 1, USA Under 19 4
North Harbour Stadium, Auckland, June 19 2016

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What can you say about the final fixture in a three game international series, featuring largely the same two sides, when you’ve already blogged the first two games and the result of the third is less than ideal?

Focus on the positives.

It was fantastic to have a team of such high calibre visit our shores – a rare occurrence. We’re always seeing complaints from football fans that the All Whites don’t play enough games, and we hardly ever see them play in New Zealand. Well, here was a team from a country ranked 16 in the world (us, 131 places higher than our men) playing a country ranked numero uno – albeit at youth level. It’s a pity more people weren’t able to come down and enjoy the spectacle for whatever reason.

And amazingly enough, we did more than just compete across the three games. ‘New Zealand A’ were unlucky to lose the first game 1-2, then the Under 20’s went one better than their more senior colleagues and scored an amazing last gasp 4-4 draw in game two. Going into game three, following the trend, I thought a win was in the offing! It wasn’t to be but I thought despite the scale of the loss we were still good enough to win as many as we lost if we had kept playing them into next week. It just didn’t go our way on this particular day.

The other big positive was perfectly articulated by a friend of one of the players on her Facebook page today, paraphrasing Confucius: “There is one lesson in victory, 1,000 in defeat.”

After all, these were friendlies and the purpose was to learn and grow or why spend all that money organising these games? If the adage is true then it’s our team that got more out of the series and we can all look forward to the experience standing them in good stead in the months and years ahead.

Looking towards the Under 20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea in November, and even to the Rio Olympics as well, I honestly think our Ferns (plural of the plural) are genuine medal chances. Outside ones perhaps, but chances none the less. Fingers and toes crossed.

The biggest/only real negative for me was the couple of great photos I took yesterday that were out of focus! I hate it with a passion when this happens!!! The autofocus (always blame the machine not the operator) latches onto the background so you get wonderfully sharp empty stadium seats and a blurry footballer. ARGH! On this occasion I have resorted to attacking one of them with phony effects on Photoshop to try and make it vaguely presentable…

IMG_9973

And so, with the Americans now winging their way back home, and me still needing to write 150 odd words in order to satisfy my ADD, I thought I’d name a ‘Player of the Series’ for you. I’m going to sound like a bit of a broken record with this one but here I go anyway – Paige Satchell. It was awesome to see her playing international football up close, and know that she can cause just as much havoc for defences at that level as she does in the New Zealand domestic game. The opposition constantly found her searing pace a struggle to deal with and she was a massive part of the impetus behind New Zealand’s lone goal in this game.

I can’t wait to watch her unleashed at Rio (assuming she is selected) and beyond!

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/

1 reply

  1. Great day out for me and my boys. The skill level was high and the goalkeepers are no longer the liabilities they used to be in days of old. It was really nice to watch a game with very few fouls, even though it was played hard and at pace. This meant the ball was in play for longer. Plus it was so refreshing to see virtually no arguing and absolutely no faking injuries or cheating. I think women’s football should market itself as free of all the rubbish which dogs the men’s game and it could catch on as a spectator sport. The fairer sex in every way!

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