The Futsal Whites and Futsal Ferns have claimed the Trans-Pacific Cups against New Caledonia after the second night of internationals at BayPark Arena in Tauranga.
It was a hard fought affair for the new-look men's team who opened the night's action.
They were put under pressure by a determined New Caledonian team who pressed them hard and took a 3-2 lead into the break. New Zealand had a number of 10m penalties in the opening 20 minutes but couldn't convert and New Caledonia made them pay.
Marvin Eakins' team, who won the opening fixture 3-1, rallied in the second half with a spirited performance to secure a come-from-behind 7-4 win and claim the Trans-Pacific Futsal Cup.
Captain Kareem Osman was at the heart of the resurgence. The Auckland flanker led the way with four goals in a man of the match performance.
“Our team put in blood, sweat, and tears for the Silver Fern tonight and that won us the game,” says Osman.
In the end it was the experience of players such as Dylan Manickum, Osman, Lucas Cordeiro Osorio Da Silva and Eakins who delivered when it mattered most to get the result for their team.
Player-coach Eakins, who found the back of the net, says it was a special moment to defend the Trans-Pacific Futsal Cup with a young and exciting squad.
“It was even more special with my first experience as a player coach as well as it being my 50th cap for New Zealand,” he says. “This has been a great series with the first ever Futsal Ferns internationals and them making history. We are looking forward to seeing an improved performance again from our team [tonight] with the goal to win the series 3-0.”
In the latter game, the Futsal Ferns were once again too good for New Caledonia in a 15-0 win.
The Nic Downes team, who won 14-0 on their international debut in futsal, built on that performance playing some fantastic futsal at times to seal a celebrated first series win.
Skipper Hannah Kraakman and Hannah Robert were two of the Ferns' stand-out performers as they took a comfortable 6-0 lead at halftime. Four players Kraakman, Robert, Britney-Lee Nicolson and TJ Lyne-Lewis all scored hat-tricks for New Zealand in the one-sided result.
New Caledonia looked a lot better defensively, but with more time together the Ferns combinations were improved and that allowed them to complete a comfortable victory and follow the men's lead in securing the Trans-Pacific Futsal Cup.
“It feels fantastic,” says coach Downes. “We were heading into the unknown in this series so it is an awesome result for the girls to win the series 2-0 and get the job done. The girls have really come together as a group. We have a great interaction and we are establishing a great culture.”
Kraakman says it was a special feeling to win a series in their first taste of international futsal.
“It feels good because this has been a long time coming, the feeling is unreal. We have never had anything like this,” she says. “We want to carry on from this performance and play some other teams around the world.”
The Futsal Whites and Ferns will feature again tonight as they look to clean sweep the three match series and complete a successful Trans-Pacific Futsal Cup.