New Zealand is set to host the OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifier with seven nations battling it out in Taupo from 16-24 March while the women’s equivalent, involving four teams, will take place in Tonga from 1-7 March.
The official draw for the women’s event kicked off proceedings at the OFC Headquarters in Greenlane as Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Samoa were drawn out in positions one to four respectively.
Day one at Loto-Tonga Centre will see the hosts take on Vanuatu – the only team making their debut at Olympic level – while heavy favourites Papua New Guinea will square off against Samoa.
The round-robin group stage will be followed by a straight final, with the eventual winner going on to play number one seed New Zealand in a home-and-away play-off scheduled for 31 March and 4 April.
OFC Head of Competitions David Firisua proceeded with the draw for the men’s tournament, which is hotly contested at U-23 level for the Olympics.
As the top two finishers in 2008, Solomon Islands and New Zealand were the number one seeds and drawn into Group A and B respectively.
The ‘Solympics’ squad were joined by second seeds Fiji while Vanuatu and American Samoa rounded out Group A.
Papua New Guinea, also seeded second after finishing fourth behind Fiji in 2008, were drawn along with Tonga in the three-team Group B headed by New Zealand’s Oly Whites.
The top two teams from each group will go through to the semi finals followed by a winner-takes-all final to conclude the prestigious event. All matches will be played at Owen Delany Park in Taupo.
Firisua says preparations for both tournaments are progressing well.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank New Zealand Football and Tonga Football Association for their hard work to get to this point,” says Firisua.
“Taupo is a fantastic venue with excellent facilities, a full range of accommodation options plus plenty of activities around the region for the participants and fans to enjoy. What is particularly pleasing is the level of support we have received from the Taupo District Council.
“The same can be said of the Tonga Football Association and local community, who have shown a strong desire to host the women's event and make it a real success.”
Further details including kick-off times and ticket information will be announced in due course.
OFC Women's Olympic Qualifier
Lota-Tonga Centre, Tongatapu, Tonga
1-7 March 2012
3. Papua New Guinea
Thursday 1 March
Tonga vs. Vanuatu
Papua New Guinea vs. Samoa
Saturday 3 March
Tonga vs. Papua New Guinea
Samoa vs. Vanuatu
Monday 5 March
Samoa vs. Tonga
Vanuatu vs. Papua New Guinea
Wednesday 7 March
3rd Place Play-off
OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifier
Owen Delany Park, Taupo, New Zealand
16-24 March 2012
1. Solomon Islands
4. American Samoa
1. New Zealand
2. Papua New Guinea
Friday 16 March
Solomon Islands vs. Fiji
Vanuatu vs. American Samoa
New Zealand vs. Papua New Guinea
Sunday 18 March
Solomon Islands vs. Vanuatu
American Samoa vs. Fiji
Papua New Guinea vs. Tonga
New Zealand bye
Tuesday 20 March
Fiji vs. Vanuatu
American Samoa vs. Solomon Islands
Tonga vs. New Zealand
Papua New Guinea bye
Thursday 22 March
Group A Winner vs. Group B Runner-up
Group B Winner vs. Group A Runner-up
Saturday 24 March
Loser Semi Final 1 vs. Loser Semi Final 2
Winner Semi Final 1 vs. Winner Semi Final 2