14 Jul 2017

Sport: Fiji braced for NZ onslaught at OFC U19 Champs

9:27 am on 14 July 2017

Fiji are bracing for their biggest challenge yet against runaway favourites New Zealand at the OFC Under 19 Women's Football Championship in Auckland.

Both teams made a winning start to their campaigns, with Fiji thrashing Tonga 4-0 on Tuesday afternoon, hours after New Zealand put 12 goals past last year's Under 20 World Cup hosts Papua New Guinea.

Fiji were in control against Tonga.

Fiji proved too strong for Tonga but are expecting a sterner test against New Zealand. Photo: OFC via Phototek

But the Fiji coach Saroj Kumar was well aware today's match against the hosts would require a massive step up.

"We all know about New Zealand - it is going to be a very big challenge for any of us who are playing against them," he said.

"But we will try to do our level-best to maintain them as much as we can.

"We know it is going to be tough because they're a team which presses high up (the pitch) quickly but we will try to maintain them as much as possible, but do our level-best against them."

Saroj Kumar said if they cannot be the first team in the Oceania Championships they will try to be the second best.

Fiji Under 19 Women's coach Saroj Kumar.

Fiji Under 19 Women's coach Saroj Kumar. Photo: OFC via Phototek

Papua New Guinea coach Rachel Wadunah is expecting an improved performance against New Caledonia this afternoon after a thumping 12-0 defeat first up against New Zealand.

The Francophones are seeking back to back wins and coach Kamali Fitialeata remained wary of PNG.

"I hope that we can take advantage of Papua New Guinea having lost their first match, but we also know that a team that gets wounded like that can be even more dangerous for us," he said.

Tonga and Samoa square off in the final match of the day, with both teams seeking their first points of the competition after opening round defeats against Fiji and New Caledonia.

Tonga Under 19 Women's coach Tiane Koaneti.

Tonga Under 19 Women's coach Tiane Koaneti. Photo: OFC via Phototek

The Polynesian rivals drew 3-3 at the last OFC-19 Championships two years ago and Tongan coach Christian Koaneti said they've worked hard in training to address some of their weaknesses from the first game.

"They're technically good, the Samoan team, and we've worked on a few things to approach the game and we've changed a bit of our team order against Samoa and how we approach the game - we will be more proactive, unlike our first game against Fiji."

Although Tonga currently sit second-to-bottom on the table, a win for could potentially see them move all the way to second-to-top if results from other games fall in their favour.

The overall winner will qualify for next year's FIFA Under 20 Women's World Cup in Japan.