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Oceania qualifying path to Athens Olympics set

OFC: The Oceania Football Confederation has today confirmed the draw, dates and match schedule for the 2004 OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament, which has been approved by FIFA.

The tournament will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand from 14-22 January 2004.

After the group matches, the two group winners will then meet in a home and away playoff on 26 and 30 January 2004, to decide the OFC representative at the Olympic Men’s Football Tournament in Athens in August 2004.

A total of ten teams will be vying for the direct entry to Athens. Australia (hosts), Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the Solomon Islands have been drawn into Group A, which will be hosted in Sydney, the venue yet to be confirmed.

New Zealand (hosts), Cook Islands, American Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu have been drawn into Group B, which will be hosted in Auckland at the North Harbour Stadium, Albany.

According to Acting OFC President, Tautulu Roebeck, both groups should be keenly contested with much at stake.

“There will be no shortage of motivation for the teams because of the shorter route that Oceania now has to get the Olympics, which is a result of gaining direct entry for the first time,” said Mr Roebeck.

“In saying that, I expect the matches to be highly competitive and entertaining and the scheduling of the tournament during the summer months should ensure parity for all.”

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