For the first time ever, a Pacific Island nations women’s football team can secure one of the remaining spots at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023.
The pathway was revealed on Wednesday following the draw for the OFC Women’s Nations Cup 2022.
OFC women’s football manager Emma Evans, assisted by New Zealand women’s international footballer Annalie Longo, conducted the draw at the OFC Home of Football – Te Kahu o Kiwa in Auckland. The draw confirmed the make-up of the three groups which will contest the nine-team competition in Fiji from July 13-30.
The winner of the OFC Women’s Nations Cup 2022 will advance to the play-off tournament which will determine the final three qualification spots for next year’s World Cup.
In Group A, Tonga have been drawn with Cook Islands and Samoa. This means a repeat of the 2018 group stage meeting between Tonga and Cook Islands, which Tonga won 1-0. Cook Islands will be hoping for revenge and to beat their best-ever tournament finish of third in 2010 and 2014. Samoa, who are coached by Wellington Phoenix legend Paul Ifill, complete an all Polynesian group.
Group B will see Papua New Guinea face Tahiti and Vanuatu. Papua New Guinea enter the tournament as the highest-ranked nation. Tahiti, in their third Women’s Nations Cup appearance, will be hoping to avenge their 3-1 loss to PNG at the 2018 tournament. Vanuatu, who are due to continue their preparation with a training camp in Australia, are competing in their first Women’s Nation Cup since 2010 and will be looking to make up for lost time.
Host nation Fiji have been drawn into Group C where they will face New Caledonia and Solomon Islands. Fiji, who finished as runners-up at the 2018 edition will be looking to go one better than four years ago on home soil. New Caledonia will be aiming to better their impressive performance as hosts in 2018, where they made the final-four, whilst Solomon Islands have appointed national men’s team legend Batram Suri to aid them in their efforts in their third appearance at a Women’s Nations Cup.
The 2022 edition of the tournament is guaranteed to see a first-time winner as perennial heavyweights New Zealand are not taking part due to receiving automatic qualification to the World Cup as co-hosts. The only other two previous winners, Chinese Taipei and Australia, are no longer OFC members.
The OFC Women’s Nations Cup will take place in Fiji from July 13-30.