Twenty-one goals in just three games helped New Zealand claim continental glory in the Oceania qualifying tournament and book a place at the FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007 in the process.
John Herdman's side thrashed hosts Papua New Guinea 7-0 on Friday to add to a 6-1 success over Tonga and an 8-0 mauling of the Solomon Islands to book the last of the 16 available spots for September's showpiece event.
It will only be New Zealand's second participation at the FIFA Women's World Cup. Sixteen years ago, they travelled to the Far East to take part in the inaugural event and suffered three first round defeats, losing to Denmark, Norway and hosts China.
Kiwis' stunning start
Tournament favourites New Zealand got off to a flyer in their first match on Monday 9 April, a 6-1 stroll in the park against Tonga. Facing oppressive heat and humidity in Papua New Guinea, Kirsty Yallop and Wendi Henderson both managed to keep their cool and claim braces, while Abby Erceg and substitute Zoe Thompson rounded off the rout.
The Kiwis' second match, two days later, was more of the same and their victory over the Solomon Islands was even more emphatic than their opening match. Nicola Smith pulled a hat-trick on the day, Simone Ferrara scored two and Rebecca Smith, Ria Percival and substitute Emma Kete each got one as New Zealand ran out 8-0 winners.
Hosts Papua New Guinea's route to the deciding match with New Zealand came by virtue of two wins from their first two matches. First up, they enjoyed a 6-1 win over the Solomons with Deslyn Siniu scoring three times in 26 minutes. Jacqueline Chalau also scored twice as the emphatic scoreline was completed by an unfortunate own goal.
The islanders kept the momentum going in their next match, but were made to battle for the three points in a close contest with the courageous Tongans which ended 1-0. In the end, only a 63rd minute own goal from Tongan defender Mele Vaisioa Mahe Niukapu could tip the scales in PNG's favour.
Qualification came down to the final match between New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. Despite facing a crowd of over 5,000 passionate PNG fans, the Kiwis maintained their composure and class to run out 7-0 winners.
Defender Abby Erceg opened the scoring after 20 minutes with Zoe Thompson, Ria Percival and Kirsty Yallop all finding the net in before the half-hour mark. Second-half goals from Yallop and substitutes Anna Green and Hayley Moorwood wrapped up the win and sparked the celebrations of the New Zealand squad.
New Zealand are the last team to qualify for China, joining the hosts and Australia, Korea DPR, Japan (AFC), Norway, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, England (UEFA), Nigeria, Ghana (CAF), USA, Canada (CONCACAF) and Argentina and Brazil (CONMEBOL).
It completed a memorable hat-trick for the Kiwis with the senior women emulating Stu Jacobs' U-20 team and Colin Tuaa's U-17 side in qualifying for FIFA World Cups in 2007.
"It underlines just how far the game has come in this country but we've only just begun," said New Zealand Soccer Chief Executive Graham Seatter. "We need to perform at the World Cups, otherwise it is an opportunity lost. But we will be doing everything to ensure the teams prepare properly and we go to three World Cups this year and perform credibly."
Oceania Women's World Cup Qualifiers