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Football Ferns Beaten by Japan

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The Football Ferns faced a tough challenge in their International friendly against Japan, resulting in a 2-0 loss in Murcia, Spain. The seventh-ranked Japanese team dominated the match, leaving New Zealand with limited opportunities to score.

Japan’s first goal came just before halftime when Mina Tanaka found space inside the box and scored past goalkeeper Anna Leat. The second goal followed less than two minutes into the second half, with Toko Koga heading in a corner at the far post.

Stand-in coach Michael Mayne acknowledged that it took time for New Zealand to adjust but saw improvement as the game progressed. “Once we adjusted to some of the problems they were posing us and we were able to figure out how to get good ball in the middle third, I thought we actually played really well,” Mayne said.

Despite the loss, Mayne highlighted the positive aspects of the team’s performance, noting their resilience and teamwork. He expects further improvement in the second match against Japan, scheduled for Tuesday morning (NZT).

Mayne is currently leading the team while regular head coach Jitka Klimkova is on leave during an investigation into an “employment-related matter.” He emphasized that the players remain focused and are eager to push for Olympic Games selection. “Obviously one of the big goals here is the Olympics and preparing for that,” Mayne said. “Everyone’s out there to perform and compete, and I thought everyone who got out on the pitch gave a good showing.”

The Football Ferns will look to build on their performance and learn from this match as they prepare for future competitions, including the upcoming Olympic Games.

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