OFC Futsal Men’s Nations Cup 2023

(New Zealand are crowned OFC Futsal Nations Cup 2023 Champions, Final, New Zealand v Tahiti, Pulman Arena Auckland, Saturday 7th October 2023. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / www.phototek.nz)

The 14th edition of the OFC Futsal Nations Cup took place in 2023 with the winner also qualifying for the 2024 FIFA Futsal World Cup™ Uzbekistan. The tournament was held at Bruce Pulman Arena in Auckland, New Zealand, and was contested between eight nations.  The format saw two groups of four, with the top two in each group progressing to the semi-finals. Hosts and defending champions New Zealand were drawn alongside Fiji, Vanuatu, and Tonga in Group A, whilst 2022 runners-up, the Solomon Islands, were joined in Group B by Tahiti, New Caledonia, and Samoa.

New Zealand used the home edge to their advantage in Group A, opening the tournament with a 6-3 victory over Vanuatu, followed by a 7-2 win over Fiji. That secured their spot in the semi-finals with a match to play, and they finished their group fixtures with a massive 14-0 demolition of Tonga to claim top spot. The battle for second was decided on the final day of group play, where Fiji defeated Vanuatu 2-1 in a hard-fought affair to book their semi-final spot.

(Tahiti’s Michel Maihuri Fiji’s Filipe Baravilala. OFC Futsal Nations Cup 2023, Semi final, Tahiti v Fiji, Pulman Arena Auckland, Thursday 5th October 2023. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / www.phototek.nz)

Group B proved very competitive, with the Solomon Islands, Tahiti, and New Caledonia all fighting for two semi-final spots. The Solomon Islands were held to two draws to start their campaign, finishing 2-2 with Tahiti, and 5-5 with New Caledonia. All sides beat Samoa comfortably, meaning the group was decided on the final day. Tahiti defeated New Caledonia 5-3 to top the group, whilst a 13-2 win for the Solomon Islands over Samoa was enough to secure second.

Akareva Riaria lit up the first semi-final with four goals to propel Tahiti to a second OFC Futsal Nations Cup final following a comfortable 7-3 victory over Fiji. The second semi-final between New Zealand and the Solomon Islands proved a much tighter affair and was a replay of the previous two finals, with hosts New Zealand defeating their rivals 4-2 to progress.

(New Zealand’s Adam Paulsen Solomon Island’s Elis Mana. OFC Futsal Nations Cup 2023, Semi final, Solomon Islands v New Zealand, Pulman Arena Auckland, Thursday 5th October 2023. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / www.phototek.nz)

New Zealand repeated their success from 2022 with a convincing 5-0 victory over Tahiti in the 2023 final in front of their home fans at Bruce Pulman Arena, securing their second consecutive OFC Futsal Nations Cup title. Five different goal scorers stepped up for the hosts, who also qualified for their first ever FIFA Futsal World Cup™ to be held in Uzbekistan in September 2024. Elsewhere the Solomon Islands were forced to make do with third after defeating Fiji 5-3 in the third-place play-off. New Zealand’s Dylan Manickum received the golden ball, whilst his teammate Mike Antamanov was awarded the golden glove. The Solomon Islands’ Micah Lea’alafa won the golden boot with seven goals, and Vanuatu also picked up the fair play award.