The New Zealand U-18 women’s futsal national team will take part in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires after securing a clean sweep in the OFC Youth Futsal Tournament at Bruce Pulman Arena in Auckland this afternoon.
Their male equivalents are now out of the running for Olympic glory after the Solomon Islands earned the men’s regional title but enjoyed a successful day nonetheless, sweeping aside New Caledonia 6-0 before doing even better with an 8-0 outclassing of Samoa.
But it’s the women who will claim the headlines after continuing their dominance with a 6-2 success over Samoa and 8-3 triumph against AFF Futsal.
Coach Ronan Naicker was proud of his team’s performance throughout the entire competition and is looking forward to flying the Oceania flag in Buenos Aires next year.
“I’m really proud of the girls and I’m happy they managed to get through and qualify,” he said.
“Representing New Zealand and Oceania at the Youth Olympics is an exciting opportunity. We’ll reassess after this and start to focus on next year but this tournament has been great.”
After receiving a last-minute call-up to join the tournament, AFF Futsal coach Maxine Cooper was delighted her side made the most of the unique opportunity and used the experience to showcase their ability, as well as further developing their game.
“I’m so proud, for a team that played together for the first time three days ago, they were phenomenal,” she said.
The women’s prize-giving followed shortly after the final whistle between New Zealand and AFF, allowing Naicker’s charges to make history by lifting the inaugural trophy.
The triumphant Kiwis completed a clean sweep after also picking up all of the individual awards on offer, both the Golden Boot and Golden Ball being awarded to Macey Fraser while the Golden Gloves were taken home by Rylee Godbold.
Although the Solomon Islands’ impressive run has ended the Youth Olympics dream for the six other nations in the men’s competition, there is still plenty to play for in the remaining games tomorrow with second place still up for grabs.
New Zealand coach Marvin Eakins was pleased to add another pair of wins to the tally and is feeling confident about securing silver tomorrow.
“We want to win our remaining game and come second,” he said.
“But we’re also looking at getting these guys better so they can go on to represent the senior Futsal Whites and go into the national league,” he added.
“We’re looking at the next step for these guys but we also need to finish strong and Vanuatu are a tough opposition who I know will make life difficult for us tomorrow. We’re looking forward to it.”
It’s now a case of job done for the women with no more fixtures remaining but Eakins’ side will face Vanuatu in their last match from 10am on Saturday at Bruce Pulman Arena.
OFC Youth Futsal Women’s Tournament Results – Day Three
Tonga 2 (Mele Akolo 10’, Seini Lutu 30’)
AFF Futsal 4 (Ella Russ 13′, Kathryn Gow 17’, 17’, Petra Buyck 31’)
Samoa 2 (Madeleen Ah Ki 21’, 31’)
New Zealand 6 (Macey Fraser 3’, 12’, 15’, Tilly James 9’, Abigail Murphy 10’, Hannah Reddy 21’)
New Zealand 8 (Lily Fisher 1’, Hannah Reddy 3’, Emily Gillion 3’, 17’, 29’, Tilly James 13’, 27’, Macey Fraser 20’)
AFF Futsal 3 (Petra Buyck 18’, 29’, Michaela Buckley 24’)
OFC Youth Futsal Men’s Tournament Results – Day Three
New Caledonia 0
New Zealand 6 (Arzan Todywalla 15’, Michael Plim 19’, Adam Paulsen 21’, 28’, Aidan Robson 23’, Sam Wright 28’)
New Zealand 8 (Oban Hawkins 1’, 21’, 27’, Sam Wright 3’, Arzan Todywalla 10’, 16’, Ethan Martin 15’, Adam Paulsen 29’)