Football Ferns qualify for World Cup and Olympics

New Zealand has became the final team to qualify for the 2019 Women's World Cup in France. Picture: RNZ

New Zealand has became the final team to qualify for the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France ahead of next weekend’s draw for the 24-team tournament in Paris.

The Football Ferns booked a place at their fourth successive World Cup by thrashing Fiji 8-0 to retain the OFC Nations Cup, sealing the qualification spot reserved for Oceania.

The win also qualifies New Zealand a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

It was their fifth successive big win of the tournament and allowed recently-appointed coach Tom Sermanni to begin his reign with a piece of silverware, New Zealand claiming regional honours for the sixth time.

The Football Ferns dominated the competition from start to finish with clinical and professional performances seeing them score 43 goals without conceding once in five matches.

Sermanni, who was appointed just ahead of the OFC Women’s Nations Cup, was pleased with yet another outstanding performance from his charges as they secured the title and a return to the global stage once more.

“I’m very happy today. I’ve been happy with the way the players have done the job throughout the tournament,” he said.

“The way we’ve played, the way we’ve approached games, the way the players have prepared for games. Obviously, we’ve had some good results and the players are pleased, they’ve worked hard and they’ve been tremendous on the field and off the field and I think the things we’ve done well is scored early goals to make things a little easier for ourselves.”

In all of New Zealand’s matches they’ve been able to find the net within the first 15 minutes, with the quickest goal coming in the opening minute of their semi-final against New Caledonia.

Lst night was no different with Rosie White taking just two minutes to find the back of the net with a stumbling strike to open the Ferns account.

Sarah Gregorius added one a few minutes later from the penalty spot after being brought down in the box, and as Fiji underestimated the speed with which their opponents would come out of the starting blocks.

Things seemed to settle somewhat after those two early openers with Fiji’s defence falling into a formation which seemed more capable of buffering the wave of attacks from New Zealand.

The Football Ferns were dominant from start to finish with Betsy Hassett managing the midfield alongside Annalie Longo, while the wing backs of Ria Percival and Ali Riley added extra bodies on attack which Fiji struggled to contain.

Despite holding up well for over 30 minutes, New Zealand were finally able to break down the defences once more when Hassett struck in the 38thminute before Meikayla Moore also added to the tally to give the Ferns a four-goal buffer coming back from the break.

Fiji were left down a player for the second half after Cema Nasau received a second yellow card in the 40thminute following a challenge on Percival which earned her her marching orders.

Once again New Zealand were much quicker off the mark following the restart with Ria Percival and Katie Rood finding the back of the net in the 46thand 48thminutes resprecively.

Hassett, Gregorius and White each added a second each to secure the 8-0 victory for their side.

The result came soon after Cameroon also qualified for the June 7-July 7 finals by finishing third in the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, beating Mali 4-2 in Cape Coast.

The draw for next year’s tournament, which will be held in Paris next weekend, will split the teams into six groups of four from four pots based on the FIFA women’s world rankings.

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