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Football Ferns drop friendly to Japan

Katie Bowen Football Ferns football
Katie Bowen was strong at the back for the Football Ferns against Japan. PHOTO: DAVE LINTOTT PHOTOGRAPHY

Conceding goals either side of halftime has seen the Football Ferns fall to Japan in an international friendly.


The New Zealand women's team gave up goals in first-half stoppage time and the 47th minute in a 2-0 defeat to the world No 7 at Estadio Enrique Roca in Murcia, Spain on Friday (Saturday NZ Time).


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Playing without head coach Jitka Klimkova, who was stood down last week by New Zealand Football while an investigation is conducted into an employment related matter, the Ferns created few goalscoring chances.


With interim head coach Michael Mayne taking over, New Zealand registered no shots in their few attacking forays as they went goal-less for the eighth time in their last 11 matches against non-Oceania opponents.


Anna Leat got the nod in goal and impressed, making several saves as Japan created most of their chances off counter-attacks and long balls.


As halftime approached, the Ferns were a little loose in their defending in the box, allowing standout Kiko Seike to tee up Mina Tanaka, who buried the opening goal into the right corner past a diving Leat.



Japan doubled their lead from a corner, with a looping ball finding defender Toko Koga unmarked at the back-post to head in.


Arguably the Football Ferns' best attacking chance came in second-half stoppage-time, with Hannah Wilkinson and Gabi Rennie combining to find some space but Rennie could not control the ball.


The Football Ferns face Japan again at the same venue on Monday (kick-off 2am Tuesday NZT) in their final currently-scheduled match before the Paris Olympics in late-July.

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