Reality check for New Zealand: Bronze in 2018, no points in 2022: Goa News
India time | 1 hour ago | 20-10-2022 | 02:40
Margao: When New Zealand landed in Goa ahead of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, the team experienced culture shock. It was business as usual, judging by the press reports back home: lots of stray dogs, cows walking in the middle of the streets and hundreds of motorbikes speeding around every corner. For New Zealand, it was such uncharted territory. On the pitch, that should have been comfortable for a team that won bronze at the last edition of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. Instead, they looked completely out of place as New Zealand suffered a loss to Chile (3-1) – their first at this level – then hammered by Nigeria (4-0) and Germany (3 -1) in the group stage. .A team that captivated the world, winning their country’s first ever medal in football at any level in the last edition, were now the first to return home, without scoring a point. “It was tough,” Emily Clegg, who scored for both of New Zealand’s goals in the tournament, told TOI. “We didn’t have many preseason games, so it was difficult. I think we did the best we could. It’s just hard, sad, and we’re all disappointed. But we have to learn from it and move on. New Zealand coach Leon Birnie was thrilled in 2018 when the team beat Japan and Canada to claim a spectacular bronze medal in Uruguay. The 2020 event was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but while a medal in 2022 would be overachieving again, getting out of the group wasn’t too much of a question. “It was a reality check,” said Birnie, after his side’s 1-3 loss to Germany in the last league clash on Monday. “We only had one preseason game and it was tough for us. What’s good, though, is that with every game we played we got better.” So why did New Zealand fare so poorly on the biggest stage? “If you ask me the difference between us and other teams, I would say this: Germany played 14 games this year, and if we go through similar preparation, then the difference would be close. Until that happens , we will continue and always learn as we go,” said Birnie. Compared to Germany’s 14 games, New Zealand have only played one friendly, against Canada, before the FIFA Cup. world under 17. The Oceania Football Federation (OFF) did not have the qualifications due to Covid-19 and instead New Zealand were appointed as the confederation’s representative.” It was a real loss,” Birnie said. “Actually, I think that group of players is as strong as the one we brought to Uruguay, but we just didn’t have time with them. The number of contacts we have had with players has been limited due to the lockdowns.