New Zealand A 2, Thailand 0
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland, December 17 2016
The New Zealand national women’s ‘A’ team played a friendly against world number 32 ranked Thailand ahead of the Wellington Phoenix vs Western Sydney Wanderers A-League fixture at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday.
Some may have called this a ‘curtainraiser’, but not me. For me it was much more of a double billing – if not the entree arriving after the main course!
I can’t be bothered looking it up properly but I doubt any of the players on show in the game that kicked off at 7:30 have ever played international football for a nation ranked as highly as 32 in the world let alone the heady height of 18th – where the Football Ferns currently sit. [Update: I asked on Twitter and Jeremy Ruane said “nope” so I’m taking that as gospel.]
The couple of hundred or so punters who made the effort to come a little early got the privilege of watching two well-matched sides duke it out.
The New Zealand selection was a mixture of well-established Football Ferns and domestic fringe and age-group internationals. Thailand, cheered on by a great bunch of ultras on the top deck of the East Stand, were a solid looking outfit that fought hard and could have won this game just as easily as they lost it.
Blows were traded at both ends in the first half, with neither side finding the breakthrough. The best chance of the half came right near the end when Kanjana Sung-Ngoen found herself with only Anna Leat to beat, but missed the target completely.
Kate Loye finally broke the deadlock six minutes into the second half when, in space, she let rip with a stunning shot from outside the penalty area that gave Thai keeper Waraporn Boonsing no show.
Paige Satchell was at her electrifying best throughout much of the contest, maintaining her position as my favourite footballer to watch! Her best chance of the match came as the speedster had the opportunity to round the onrushing figure of Boonsing, but the keeper saved at her feet, injuring herself in the process and needing to be stretchered off. But her job was well done and 1-0 it stayed until injury time.
It was Rosie White who grabbed a deserved second for New Zealand A with a fine looking volley that put the final result beyond doubt.
An entertaining match no doubt! A pity that more people didn’t come to watch. I couldn’t help but wonder how frickin cool it would have been if Yellow Fever had made the effort to come a little bit earlier than usual – even if it was just for the last half hour of the Ferns game – to give the women some richly deserved support. Maybe next time, guys?
Anyway, there’s always a silver lining! New Zealand A and Thailand meet again tomorrow night, 5pm at Fred Taylor Park.
I will be knocking off work early to head out to what will be my last live football game of the year. It would be nice to see you there too!
Categories: Football Ferns
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.