14 Nov 2018

First up World Cup win for under-17 footballers

12:35 pm on 14 November 2018

New Zealand has won it's opening game at the under-17 women's football World Cup in Uruguay.

Kelli Brown scored in a 1-nil win over Finland.

New Zealand under-17 womens football team for 2018 World Cup.

New Zealand under-17 womens football team for 2018 World Cup. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Brown scored the tournament's first goal not long before half-time with a long-range effort placed just outside the reach of Finland goalkeeper and into the top corner of the goal.

Finland, who are making their tournament debut, struggled to create enough chances to threaten Anna Leat's goal, despite having the majority of possession.

New Zealand produced the majority of chances in the second half, with forward Maggie Jenkins at the focal point of their attack, but Brown's first-half goal proved to be enough to secure the Kiwis all three points in Group A.

Coach Leon Birnie was delighted.

"It was a great performance, we'd watched a lot of footage in the qualifiers and Finland are a very, very good side. They've had some great results and we knew this was going to be real challenge," he said.

"As a staff, I felt we got it right tactically and even better than that was the girls' execution and work rate. In the second half, they had nothing left and had given everything they could but were able to hang in there."

It was just the third ever victory for New Zealand at this event, going down alongside a 3-1 win against Colombia on home soil in 2008 and a 5-0 triumph over Jordan in 2016.

Due to the impressive exploits of Koivunen, there weren't as many goals today but Birnie won't care as, with further Group A matches against hosts Uruguay and Ghana to come, his team is now promisingly placed to progress to the knockout stages.

"We had two goals when we came over here, one was to get a win and the second was to get out of the group, so we're halfway there," he said.

"We'll enjoy tonight because it's a special moment and then look to move on tomorrow. We've got Uruguay next which is going to be a huge challenge and I'm sure it will be a packed stadium cheering them on. We just need to make sure we do everything right between tomorrow and the Uruguay game."

Ghana beat Uruguay in the other group game.

New Zealand play Uruguay on Saturday.