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Football Ferns book London berth

The win leaves New Zealand with an impressive 15-0 advantage across the two-legged play-off following the 8-0 score line in Whangarei on Saturday.
Tony Readings’ side looked comfortable despite the 30-degree heat and got the scoring underway in the 13th minute through Hayley Moorwood, standing in as captain for the rested Rebecca Smith.
Strikers Sarah Gregorius and Hannah Wilkinson also netted in the first half while an unfortunate own goal gifted the visitors a 4-0 lead heading into the break.
New Zealand continued their drive in the second half with Anna Green and Betsy Hassett benefitting from goalkeeping errors before Gregorius added the exclamation point with a well-taken penalty.
Readings says he was delighted to see his players leave everything out on the pitch.
“A lot more testing conditions today because the sun was out and the pitch maybe wasn’t as smooth as the pitch in Whangarei but we just think the girls did everything they could today and we’re pleased with the result.
“We wanted to use this game as preparation for the Olympics and the only way to do that is to push for the full 90 minutes and I think we achieved that.
“We’ve still got a lot of work ahead. We won’t see the overseas based players for about two months now which is a shame but then we’re hoping to bring them all in for one month before heading over to Europe.”
An ecstatic Hayley Moorwood paid tribute to Readings and says the team is heading in the right direction.
“We’re looking pretty good at the moment under our new coach, I think he’s taken the team on really well. We’re all having fun at the moment and we’re liking the football that we play.
“We’ve got a lot more to improve on before the Olympics but we’re in a good space at the moment.”
Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea coach Steven Mune was disappointed not to give the lively home crowd a closer contest.
“We needed to show more composure on attack because we did create more chances today.
“But we also gave New Zealand too much room to move the ball around and we needed to concentrate more on holding in defence.”
“There is a big gap between New Zealand and the Pacific Islands but we are still proud to make it this far and compete in the play-off.”
The Football Ferns qualify for their second consecutive Olympic Games along with the Oly Whites who defended their title at the OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifier in Taupo last month.
The Women’s Olympic Football Tournament is set to take place in the United Kingdom from 25 July to 9 August with New Zealand joining Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, France, Japan, Korea DPR, South Africa, Sweden, USA and hosts Great Britain.
Story is a courtesy of OFC. For more information visit OFC website: www.oceaniafootball.com

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