OFC RETAIN FIFA CLUB WORLD CUP SPOT
The Oceania Football Confederation has secured its berth at the 2006 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan this December after an announcement was made in Germany by the FIFA Executive Committee.
Speculation about OFC’s participation in the event began after Australia’s departure to the Asian confederation leaving a situation where a fully amateur OFC club champion would be included alongside the world’s elite at the FIFA Club World Cup.
But the format for last year’s FIFA Club World Championship will be retained when the tournament returns to Japan in 2006. The six-team field will therefore be composed of the champions of each of the six confederations – Africa, Asia, Central and North America, Europe, South American and Oceania.
The European and South American champions are seeded through to the semi finals with the remaining confederation champions drawn to play each other. The two winners will advance to the semi finals with the two losing teams playing off for fifth place. The sixth placed team is guaranteed at least USD$1 million in prize money.
New Zealand’s Auckland City FC is OFC’s representative for 2006 after defeating AS Pirae of Tahiti 3-0 in the final of the 2006 OFC Club Championships at North Harbour Stadium last month.
OFC General Secretary Tai Nicholas is thrilled with the decision.
“Obviously this provides our Confederation with another opportunity to perform on the world stage. Auckland City now has five months to prepare adequately for what will undoubtedly be a huge challenge,”
Oceania’s representatives in 2005 Sydney FC surprised many by claiming fifth position with a 2-1 win over Al Ahly of Egypt, earlier in the tournament they were beaten by Costa Rica’s Deportivo Saprissa.