Maidens lauded for great performance

•Birnie - New Zealand head coach

• Birnie – New Zealand head coach

A football match can end only one of three ways: win, draw or lose. It also takes a champion to accept defeat and praise opponents for winning a game fair and square.

That was the narrative of New Zealand Coach Leon Birnie as he hailed free-scoring Ghana as a team to watch out for in the tournament after the Kiwis 2-0 defeat in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Montevideo with goals from Abdullai Mukarama.

Bernie, after suffering his first defeat, said: “Ghana are athletic and fast, they knock the ball around really well and, to be honest, they are a really good side.”

Birnie is leading the Kiwis to a historic first quarter-finals appearance in the tournament. They made their debut in 2008 as hosts but had since failed to progress beyond the group stage until this time in Uruguay.

Coach Birnie made eight changes to his starting line which according to him was a strategic move to balance the team ahead of their knock out stage match against Japan.

He said: “The game was important but the girl’s bodies mentally and physically, just around training was telling us if we put the same players in the match we will struggle in the quarter finals.”

New Zealand play Japan at the Estadio Alberto Suppici Colonia Del Sacramento on Saturday November 24. – AIPS

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