22 Jan 2016

Sport: Make or break time at OFC U17 Football Champs

9:48 am on 22 January 2016

It's make or break time in Rarotonga, with grand final spots on the line at the Oceania Under 17 Women's Football Champs.

Defending champs New Zealand topped Group A, scoring 36 unanswered goals, and take on Fiji for a spot in the deciding match.

The Fijians twice game from a goal down to draw with Papua New Guinea in their final group match and New Zealand coach Gareth Turnbull is expecting a tough match:

"They're a well-organised team with some dangerous players in attack, and one of the most-athletic and consistent keepers at the tournament."

Fiji at the Oceania Under 17 Women's Football Championship.

Fiji at the Oceania Under 17 Women's Football Championship. Photo: Oceania Football

Fiji coach Yogendra Dutt is under no false illusions about the challenge that awaits his side.

"We have plenty of respect for New Zealand, they are our big sisters in this situation. They have been in great form, but we will form a plan to try and target them in any way we can. For us it will be important to stay focussed on defence and to make the most of any chances we get up front."

PNG are through to the semi finals.

PNG are through to the semi finals. Photo: Oceania Football

PNG were top qualifiers from Group B but coach Margaret Aka was disappointed with their defensive effort against Fiji.

"It was frustrating because we didn't play the way we planned and I think the girls got nervous a little bit in the end and they let a few goals in. They knew it themselves and they were shattered after that game - they were crying like we lost - and I think they gained some confidence out of that. So for the next game we'd like to play simple football and keep it as simple as we can."

Margaret Aka has seen watched plenty of footage of today's opponent, New Caledonia, and says they will be treating the match like a grand final and going all out for victory.

New Caledonia will be hoping for more reasons to celebrate.

New Caledonia will be hoping for more reasons to celebrate. Photo: Oceania Football

Their opponents have the worst defensive record of all the semi-final teams, conceding 12 goals in three matches, and coach Matthieu Delcroix says fixing that is a must against a fast and efficient PNG attacking unit.

"Their forward players are fast and the entire team transitions very well. We will need to watch out for their long ball. Papua New Guinea are an aggressive team with good technical players...we have worked on our combination play, so we will see if that works against PNG."

The two semi final winners will advance to the Oceania Championship match on Sunday, with the overall winner earning direct qualification to the U17 Women's World Cup in Jordan later this year.