24 Jan 2016

Under-17 NZ women reach World Cup

7:24 pm on 24 January 2016

The New Zealand under-17 women's football team has qualified for their FIFA World Cup in Jordan in September, with a comprehensive 8-0 victory over Papua New Guinea in Rarotonga.

Jacqui Hand scored a hat-trick in New Zealand's 11-0 victory over Samoa at the Oceania Under 17 Championship in Rarotonga.

Jacqui Hand in action in Rarotonga Photo: Oceania Football

The Young Football Ferns only led 2-0 at half-time in the final, but they added six more goals in the second half to easily claim the Oceania Football Under-17 Women's Championship title.

Hannah Blake and Jacqui Hand scored the first-half goals then Blake and Hand completed their hat-tricks in the second spell, with Samantha Tawharu and Michaela Foster the other scorers.

New Zealand coach Gareth Turnbull was delighted with how his team took their final step towards their World Cup berth.

"It was a very tense final," Turnbull said.

"Papua New Guinea were well organised and spirited without the ball and made life a challenge for us.

"Finals are never easy and the girls had to be patient and work for it today, which they did.

"In the second half they were fantastic, they came out firing with three goals in the first 10 minutes and we saw the rest of the game out and I'm really pleased with the result and the way we played."

Laura Merrin, who now plays for Everton, prepares to take a throw-in for the Junior Ferns against the Young Matildas at Kristin School in Albany, Auckland, back in July 2013. Photo: Andrew Cornaga / Photosport.co.nz

A Junior Football Ferns player prepares to take a throw-in Photo: Photosport

Turnbull acknowledged the role of Blake and Hand in their scoring contribution to Sunday's result with the growing partnership of the front players bearing fruit in Rarotonga.

"It was really a continuation from the partnership they formed with Sam Tawharu in the National League. The eight games we had in the National League were invaluable for this.

"Both Hannah and Jacqui took the majority of what came their way. I'm really pleased for Hannah in particular who picked up the Golden Boot award and hopefully what is the start of a long international career for her."

Turnbull said the side achieved what they set out to at the tournament; secure their spot in Jordan on their terms.

"The objective here was to win and qualify but if we could do that playing our style and brand of football - which is positive and attack-minded - we would have been really pleased, and I think we've achieved that."

On Saturday the senior women's side also had a big win over Papua New Guinea, the Football Ferns thrashing their hosts 7-1 in the first leg of the Oceania Olympic qualifying playoffs.

The two teams will play the second leg at Albany in Auckland on Tuesday.