The Qatar World Cup 2022 is getting closer with the majority of the key qualifying fixtures taking place towards the end of March. Over the next couple of months, each of the six World football confederations will be holding qualifiers to decide this year’s final 32 nations. We’ll be covering the qualification processes in each confederation, covering the dates, locations and nations set to battle it out for World Cup Qualification – starting with the Oceanic section.
Oceanic section set to compete for an Inter-Confederation Final spot
The Oceanic section of the World Cup qualifiers will be the first to take place this month, starting on the 17th March with the final taking place on the 30th March. The Oceanic Football Confederation (OFC), the organization responsible for overseeing Oceanic football, is made up of only 13 nations. All OFC qualifiers will take place at a neutral location in Doha due to Covid.
Nations within the OFC are all vying for a total of 0.5 qualifying spots. This means that the winner of the Oceanic qualifiers does not qualify for the World Cup straight away. In order to qualify, the winner meets the nation that finished 4th in the CONCACAF section of World Cup qualifying. The subsequent winner then qualifies!
The qualification process originally included all 11 Oceanic nations. After the withdrawal of American Samoa, Samoa, and Tonga, the play-offs tournament was shaved to 8 nations, competing in 2 groups of 4.
Pot A includes the highest Oceanic rated nation New Zealand, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea and Fiji. Pot B involves the second highest ranked side with the Solomon Islands competing against Tahiti, Vanuatu, and the Cook Islands. The runner up of Group B plays the winner of Group A, with the winner of Group B playing the runner up of Group A. The winners of each semi final then proceed into the final for a chance to play for a spot in this year’s World Cup.
New Zealand: Oceania’s best hope
The last two runnings of the World Cup (2014 & 2018) has not featured a side from Oceanic waters. New Zealand missed out both times in the Inter-Confederation play off final, to Mexico and Fiji.
The Oceanic Football Confederation will be hoping for a representative in this year’s World Cup for the first time in 12 years. New Zealand, the highest ranked side in Oceania look to be their best chance of doing so, repeating their feat of 2010.
New Zealand will be hoping for a repeat of 2010’s heroics, qualifying for only their second ever World Cup and being the only side to go undefeated in their group containing giants Italy, Slovenia and Paraguay. Albeit a huge performance and a nation’s best, New Zealand just came short of qualification into the round of 16 trailing Slovenia by 1 point after a 0-0 draw to Paraguay.
The Oceanic Football Confederation will be hoping for their very own fairytale story of an overachieving nation at the World Cup.
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