December 03, 2021
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Oceania 2022 World Cup Qualifiers To Be Played In Doha

The location and dates for the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) World Cup qualifiers tournament have been confirmed and will take place in Doha, Qatar, from March 14th to March 30th 2022. FIFA recently announced the arrangements after none of the OFC member governments could agree to host the competition under current Covid-19 restrictions. As the OFC have been restricted from holding any national team tournaments since 2019, due to the pandemic, the March dates in Qatar will be the first and last chance for the competition to take place.

The OFC Qualifiers

Of the six football confederations, the OFC is the only one yet to kick off its 2022 qualifying tournament. Due to begin in September 2020, the competition organisers were forced to postpone the tournament's start date on several occasions. Continued delays and issues with organising the competition within the Oceania region have meant that the contest will now be played out in Qatar in March 2022, which will be cutting it fine in terms of timelines. The teams will be playing for 0.5 slots at the 2022 World Cup - the only way to qualify for the Oceania teams is via FIFA's inter-confederation playoff in June 2022.

Qualifying Format

The OFC qualifiers will be contested by eight teams across two rounds - a Group Stage and a Final Stage. The region's seven highest-ranking teams - New Zealand, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Tahiti, Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea - automatically qualified for the Group Stage. The lowest-ranked teams, Tonga and the Cook Islands, will go head-to-head before the Group Stage, the winner completing the eight-team line-up. Samoa and American Samoa recently withdrew from the competition.

For the tournament's Group Stage, the eight teams have been drawn into two groups (A and B), based on their FIFA rankings. The teams in each group will play three single round-robin matches to determine the group's top two teams. The four winning nations will advance to the Final Stage.

Group A

  • Solomon Islands (141)
  • Tahiti (159)
  • Vanuatu (163)
  • Tonga (199) or the Cook Islands (not ranked)

Group B

  • New Zealand (110)
  • New Caledonia (153)
  • Fiji (161)
  • Papua New Guinea (164)

The top four teams from the Group Stage will compete in two single-leg semi-final matches in the Final Stage. The two semi-final victors will meet in the final to determine which team advances to the inter-confederation playoffs. 

The OFC representative will face the fourth-placed team from the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) in the June playoffs for a place in the final competition.

Past World Cup Success

New Zealand was the last OFC nation to qualify for the FIFA World Cup. The team made it to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa after a win over Bahrain in the inter-confederation playoffs. 

At the World Cup tournament Group Stage, the New Zealanders were drawn into Group F with Italy, Paraguay and Slovakia. Playing a single round-robin format, the All Whites finished the round in third place and unbeaten, drawing against each of their opponents. However, they exited the competition behind the top two teams, Paraguay and Slovakia.

During the 2018 World Cup Russia qualifiers, the New Zealanders made the playoffs once again but missed out on the World Cup after losing to Peru.

Main image: nzfootball.co.nz

Published: December 03, 2021
Last updated: December 03, 2021
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