Paris Olympics: Football Ferns make winning start to qualifying campaign against Tonga

Grace Jale celebrates a goal against Tonga.
Grace Jale celebrates a goal against Tonga. Photo credit: Photosport

Football Ferns have made a winning start to their Paris Olympics bid, dispatching Tonga 3-0 in the opening game of the Oceania qualifying event in Samoa.

All three goals - two by striker Grace Jale - came in the opening 16 minutes, as the NZ women failed capitalise on their chances against an impressive defensive effort from a team the demolished 11-0 four years ago.

New Zealand has represented Oceania at every Olympic women's tournament since Beijing 2008, when Australia switched to the FIFA Asia confederation.

"I'm glad that we have this standard of opposition that we have to put our best performances to get the best results," reflected Ferns coach Jitka Klimkova. "I'm happy we won, we have three points - that's the important fact we wanted from this game - but there are a lot of takeaways we need to get better."

Jale opened their account in the second minute, after Tonga failed to clear a corner-kick. Ally Green added a second from the penalty spot, when Mackenzie Barry was brought down in the area.

Jale added her second, when she curled a rightfoot effort inside the far post, but Tongan goalkeeper Madison Tenifa kept the Kiwi strikers at bay for the remaining 75 minutes. Klimkova used all five substitutes, as her players wilted in hot conditions.

"Four of the players haven't even arrived here and we had arrivals yesterday, so in those conditions and the players having played on the weekend, to play again after such long travel for many of them, I am glad we are injury free," she said.

"It's really, really obvious that our quality in the final third, our decisions and how we execute... that's something that was missing today. That's our focus for the next games."

The Football Ferns next face Samoa on Saturday, after the home team beat Vanuatu 1-0 in their tournament opener.

NZ 3 (Jale 2 & Green penalty) Tonga 0