The World Cup draw takes place on April 1st, and there remains the potential for New Zealand to enter the pots.
In the next instalment of this series, we’ll look at who can still qualify for the competition from the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC).
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What’s happened so far?
The two lowest ranked nations in the region were scheduled to play a qualifying match earlier in March, but Tonga had to withdraw from the competition following the effects of a volcanic eruption, and subsequent Tsunami, in the area. This left Cook Islands with a bye into the group stages of the qualification process.
How do things look now?
The group stages saw the eight qualifying nations split into two groups of four, where they were scheduled to face each other once as part of a mini tournament held in Qatar.
Due to Covid outbreaks in the squads of both Vanuatu and Cook Islands, both nations had to withdraw. This left Solomon Islands and Tahiti to play each other to determine which side would top Group A, though both advanced regardless. This is how the standings looked at the end of the tournament.
|2||Papua New Guinea||3||6|
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What could happen next?
The two teams that finished first and second in the group stages moved on to the semi-finals of the mini tournament. These fixtures were played on the 27th March and saw Solomon Islands beat Papua New Guinea 3-2 and New Zealand overcome Tahiti 1-0.
New Zealand then went on to beat Solomon Islands 5-0 in the final, and as a result, they have progressed to the inter-confederation playoff game against the side that finished fourth in Concacaf qualifying, Costa Rica. This will be a single winner-takes-all match in Qatar set to take place in June.
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