Wellington Phoenix players have played a major role in New Zealand winning an eighth OFC U-19 Women’s Championship and with it a place at next year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Colombia.
Nine of the club’s reserves team featured for the Junior Football Ferns during the tournament in Fiji, with eight starting Saturday’s final against the hosts in Suva.
Manaia Elliott captained New Zealand in the final and scored two first-half goals before setting up Nix reserves teammate Ella McCann, who gave the Ferns a 3-0 halftime lead.
The Leon Birnie coached side went on to win 7-0 and finished the tournament with an incredible 45 goals for and none against.
Phoenix reserves players filled all the defensive positions in the final, with Aimee Danieli starting in goal and Zoe McMeeken, Ella McMillan, Marie Green and Rebekah Trewhitt, who scored a second-half brace in New Zealand’s opening group game against Fiji, across the backline.
Helena Errington, a scorer of a brace against Papua New Guinea in their second group game, started in midfield, with Elliott and McCann, who scored a first-half hat-trick in the quarter-final against the Solomon Islands, up front.
Goalkeeper Charlotte Eagle was the only Nix reserves player not to feature in the final, but she was in goal for the resounding wins over Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.
New Zealand is just the fifth nation to secure a place at the 2024 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Colombia, joining the hosts and CONCACAF qualifiers Mexico, the U.S.A. and Canada in the tournament, which is scheduled to be staged in September next year.
The Wellington Phoenix contingent will now re-join their teammates in the women’s reserves, who will resume their campaign in the under-17 capital development league this weekend.
Feature photo: Kirk Corrie / www.phototek.nz