Author Topic: Soccer: Goal drought worry as Olympic buildup begins  (Read 967 times)

Offline David

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Soccer: Goal drought worry as Olympic buildup begins
« on: July 13, 2008, 10:17:50 PM »
New Zealand's first Olympic team in action left for China yesterday after one of their better soccer showings against Australia, but with concerns about their goalscoring ability.

Coach John Herdman's Football Ferns dominated the second half against a higher-rated Australian women's side but couldn't find the net in a 1-0 defeat at North Sydney Oval.

It stretched their losing streak to 16 matches against the Matildas, who didn't qualify for the Games through the much tougher Asian confederation.

Herdman was a hard marker for his young side who next meet China on Wednesday in the first of two warmup matches against the Olympic hosts, ahead of their Games opener against Japan on August 6.

"It's about being ruthless in that attacking third. We were ruthless all over the pitch in terms of the pressure we put on, but it just didn't appear in the attacking third," he said.

"I'm very worried about it and as a team they've got to really address that.

"We had enough set plays and enough opportunities, where some players have got to step up and say 'this is why I've been picked in the team'.

"Certainly I'll be addressing that with one or two individuals."

A 36th-minute header to Australia's Leena Khamis settled an even contest after Ferns goalkeeper Jenny Bindon was drawn off her line.

New Zealand's American-based Stanford University midfielder Ali Riley was their standout, creating several chances down the right and forcing a flurry of second half corners.

But the closest they got to an equaliser was when captain Hayley Moorwood slammed a shot into the side netting from their first corner, 10 minutes after the break.

There was plenty of physicality in the Ferns' defence, with Anna Green and Rebecca Smith both booked for heavy challenges.

The team play China on Wednesday and Sunday at the Games soccer venue at Qinhuangdao, before moving to Singapore to face the home side and Canada as they acclimatise to warm, humid conditions.

With his strongest side in his two-year stint as coach, featuring returns by Sweden-based World Cup defender Smith and former Arsenal striker Amber Hearn, Herdman still felt they could make a splash at the Games where they also meet world No 5 Norway and No 1 United States in group play.

"What I've noticed in women's football is Japan, Norway, USA, they rollercoaster throughout the year. USA have been the most consistent, but conceding four goals against Australia lets you know that they aren't invincible.

Meanwhile, New Zealand's under-23 Olympic men's side remain in Sydney to face A-League side Central Coast tomorrow after an encouraging 3-2 loss to their Australian counterparts on Saturday. Midfielder Jeremy Brockie was the individual star with both goals, including a brilliant solo effort.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/4/story.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=10521403