New Zealand's women's teams secured the Oceania Football Confederation's nomination for the Olympic Football Tournament in Beijing with straightforward victories in the qualifying event which took place in Lautoka, Fiji.
However, the New Zealand women (along with their male
counterparts) now face a nervous wait to see whether the New
Zealand Olympic Committee will ratify their inclusion in the
Olympic events. In the next few days, a New Zealand Football
representative will meet with the NZOC's three-man Olympic
selection panel to discuss the merits of both teams.
Renee Leota's first international goal came at a crucial time for the Football Ferns who recorded a 2-0 win over a hardworking Papua New Guinea side in a one-off encounter at Port Moresby's Rugby League Stadium on Saturday.
Coach John Herdman's pre-match call for patience from his side was justified as it took the Kiwis 55 minutes to break the deadlock.
'It was what we expected with Papua New Guinea putting 11 players behind the ball and a bobbly pitch making passing difficult," said Herdman. "However, we we're always in control and it was just a matter of time before we scored."
Picking up on a poor clearance on the edge of the box, 17-year-old Leota buried a right foot shot into the bottom left hand corner to break the deadlock and relieve the mounting tension.
With the resistance of the South Pacific Games champions broken, substitute Kirsty Yallop added another nine minutes from full time to cap the win and secure Oceania's nomination for the Olympic games.