2023 FIFA WWC: USA thrash co-host New Zealand 4-0 in pre-competition friendly 

By Harry Awurumibe, Editor-in -Chief, Abuja

Take This…Team USA veteran Carli Lloyd about to unleash a shot while two Nigerian players try to stop her during a match in Texas in 2022.

Five months to the the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup final in Australia and New Zealand, the reigning  champions United States of America (USA) have sent out a warning signal to the rest of the world by hammering the co-host New Zealand 4-0 in an international friendly match played in Wellington in the early hours of Wednesday.

Four second half goals scored by forwards Mallory Pugh (52′), Alex Morgan (60′), Mallory Pugh (63′) and substitute Lynn Williams (74′) gifted the 4-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champions victory over New Zealand.
The first half of the match which is the  first of the two-match tour of New Zealand had ended in a barren draw with the Americans apparently using the period to test the staying power of their opponents only to hit them hard in the second half.
However, four changes made by Team USA gaffer before the commencement of the second half saw the Americans go on scoring spree as the introduction of forward Trinity Rodman for Purce and defenders  Asheley Cook for Gimma and Sam Huerta for Dunn and midfielder Andi Sullivan for Taylor made Team USA better and stronger to over power New Zealand.
Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski who replaced Jill Ellis who led Team USA to win the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France had adopted the 4-3-3 formation which saw him field an admixture of youth and veteran players  to test-run the tactics he will use in the forthcoming 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup final in Australia and New Zealand in the summer.

Team USA

Andonovski lined up veterans- goalkeeper-Alyssa Naeher (1) and defenders-Crystal Dunn (19), Becky Sauerbrunn (4),  Naomi Girma (12) and Emily Ann Fox (23) as well as midfielders Rose Lavelle (16), Lindsey Horan (10) and youngster Taylor Kornieck (20).

This is even as the coach opted for the attack line of superstar Alex Morgan (13) and goal-machines Mallory Pugh (9) and Margaret Purce (11). This formation and changes he made in the match saw his team crushing their opponents.
Although Andonovski replaced Rose Lavelle in the 62′ with Ashley Sanchez and Pugh after she scored a brace with Lynn Williams in 67′, the substitute went on to score the fourth goal for Team USA on the night.
Meanwhile, New Zealand Head Coach, Jitka Klimková himself went for a tactical set up of 4-4-2 with  goalkeeper Erin Nayler (1), and defenders Grace Neville (35), Ali Riley (7), Anna Green (31) and Ashleigh Ward (30).
He also opted for the midfield comprising of Grace Jale (25), Betsy Hassett (12), Daisy Cleverley (15) and Olivia Chance (11) and two attackers Ava Collins (28) and Gabi Rennie (9) respectively.
But his wards who gave a good account of themselves in the first half crumbled like a pack of cards in the second stanza as the Americans ran riot by scoring four  unreplied goals with 74′.
Both teams will clash again on January 21in the second match billed for Eden Park, National Stadium in Auckland, an opportunity for the host country to exert a revenge against the Americans.
Elsewhere, Thailand senior women’s football team thrashed Chinese Taipei 2-0 in another international friendly match played in the early hours of Wednesday.
A goal in each half of the match scored by striker Kanyanat Chetthabutr and forward Makris Irravadee ensured that Thailand women’s team won the encounter.

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