The morning games was against Australia who have never lost to New Zealand. The game started with both sides feeling each other out and apart from a couple of long range attempts from both sides neither keepers were tested. With 7 minutes to halftime New Zealand created the two best chances of the half with young Australian keeper Amanda Horafios pulling off two outstanding saves and keeping the scores level at nil all at halftime. The first half was highlighted by the sending off of Kirsty Butland (NZ) and Jasmine Kent (AUS).
After the break the Australians stepped it up and set about pressing on the Kiwi’s which seemed to rattle them a little. With New Zealand hot on attack Australia turned over the ball and scored on a counter attack to break the deadlock. With 5 minutes remaining Australia once again launched a counter attack and as the kiwi defence raced back Australia scored from an own goal to eventually win 2 nil.
The second game for New Zealand was against the Philippines and this was a game where nothing was to go right. The philippines play a fairly unstructured game and use their speed and passing to score. The Kiwi’s seemed a little flat and took some time to get into the game. Just as they found some traction Keeper Noran Abaza was sent off for a hand ball outside of the keeper area leaving the side to fight on with just 4 players for the next 2 minutes.
This seemed to spur the side into action more and they were unlucky not score with several attacking raids hitting the crossbar and post on two occassions. After half time it was more of the same as New Zealand went about trying to break the nil all deadlock. The longer it stayed nil all the more the Philippines believed they could snatch the game and their speed around the court was causing issues for the Kiwi’s.
New Zealand once again went a player down after Emma Proctor was sent for a second yellow after she tried to play a free kick quickly but the ref wanted her to wait for his whistle and carded her. Sensing their chance for a first win over New Zealand the Philippines again lauched attack after attack but again the resiliant kiwi defence held out again had their own chances but couldn’t find the back of the net. In the end the game ended in a Nil all draw in what was the probably New Zealands worst performance of the tournament but did show even when things aren’t going right they have the abilty to battle away.
New Zealand then played Australia in a final, a game coach Wadsworth wanted the girls to relax and enjoy rather than becoming stressed in. The side responded well and although conceeding 2 early goals struck back with goals to Lucy Chan and Noran Abaza to level the game at 2 all. After the break Australia once again lifted and scored 3 further scores to take control but the kiwi’s were unlucky not to score themselves on several occasions. In the dying minutes Emma Proctor got one back but in the end time beat them along with a fine Australian side.
The Kiwi’s have definately closed the gap on Australia and it won’t be long before they etch out a victory for themselves. With more high level games and a continuation of a solid training program they will catch up with a view to surpassing the Australians.