The city of Hamilton, on New Zealand's North Island, was the place to be this matchday for those teams aiming for the second round of the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup 2008. All four sides that took the field at the Waikato Stadium will line up in the knockout phase, with Korea DPR, Canada and Denmark joining already-qualified Germany.
Ghana and hosts New Zealand both won their final group matches in Wellington, but the pair's victories had a very different feel. For the Africans, their first win at this year's tournament was tinged with disappointment at missing out on the next round. For the Kiwis, in contrast, the three points represented an historic first.
Having arrived in Oceania with high hopes of qualifying for the second phase, Colombia needed a victory over the host nation in their final game and the result in the group's other match to go their way. Over in the camp of already-eliminated New Zealand, the goal was simple: to bow out with their heads held high. After the final whistle had blown, it was the Young Football Ferns who were smiling as they left the pitch at Wellington Stadium. Yes, Paul Temple's charges were out of the tournament on home soil, but they signed off by claiming the first ever win by a New Zealand side in the history of FIFA women's competitions.
Leading the Kiwi charge was hat-trick heroine Rosie White, who took advantage of two Colombian defensive gaffes to put her side on the victory trail. The first of these was down to Cafeterita keeper Stefany Castano, beaten at her near post by White's low cross-shot, before the same player calmly added a second after Natalia Gaitan's misplaced clearance. Colombia reduced the deficit late on, only for White to complete her hat-trick and send the South Americans to the foot of Group A.
The other games
In the other match in Group A, Denmark and Canada shared a draw that ensured both sides' place in the next round. With Colombia losing to the hosts, all that was at stake was to decide who would finish in top spot, thus avoiding women's football powerhouses Germany in the second phase. Both sides appeared more concerned with avoiding defeat than seeking a win, however, and the resulting goalless draw sent the Scandinavians through in first place on goals scored.
Over in Group B, already-qualified Germany made sure of top spot with a 1-1 draw against Korea DPR. Having taken the lead early on through Alexandra Popp, Ralf Peter's side were pegged back by a superb goal from Jon Myong Hwa, a strike that booked the Asian side's place in the next stage and rendered Ghana's win over Costa Rica irrelevant. Deborah Afriyie's solitary strike had given the Black Maidens hope, only for tears of disappointment to flow upon learning their fate at the final whistle.
Rosie White (NZL)
The New Zealand front-runner's eye for goal ensured her side exited their first FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup on a high note. And at the age of just 15, the Western Springs Auckland star is still young enough to take part in the next edition of the showpiece event. One thing is for sure, her future opponents will not be taking her lightly.
What they said
"I've enjoyed being involved in this tournament and I'm sure you'll hear about us again at the U-20 World Cup in two years' time!" Abraham Allotey, Ghana coach.